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E. E. PRATT, Chief 





Commercial Agent of the Department of Commerce 









E. E. PRATT, Chief 





Commercial Agent of the Department of Commerce 













Letter of submittal 5 

Introduction 7 

Dyestuff situation In the United States 12 

I host nil's used in the United States 12 

Natural organic dyes 12 

Importation of natural organic dyes 14 

Mineral dyes 15 

Artificial organic dyes 15 

Domestic manufacture of artificial dyestuffs 16 

Foreign sources of artificial dyestuffs 17 

Economic effects of dependence upon a single foreign source 17 

Increased cost of coal-tar dyes 18 

Outlook for the immediate future 18 

Alternatives in case of a dyestuff famine 19 

Outline of the coal-tar chemical industry 20 

Coal-tar dye industry in the United States 21 

Slow development of the American industry 21 

American supply of raw materials 23 

Coal tar from gas works 24 

Coal tar and benzol from coke works 24 

Present production of crude tar products 26 

Price movement of American coal-tar crudes 28 

Position of the American tar distiller 28 

Supply of general chemicals required 29 

The German coal-tar dyestuff industry 30 

Trade in crudes and intermediates 31 

Causes of Germany's supremacy 33 

Research the chief cause 34 

German industry, capital, dividends, etc 34 

Geography of the German industry 35 

Relations between companies 35 

Equipment of plants 37 

Wages in the German factories 37 

Processes of manufacture 38 

Uniformity of product 40 

Typical phases 40 

Illustrative outlines 41 

Alizarin, naphthol yellow, magenta 41 

Hydroquinone and synthetic indigo 42 

The ketone dyes 44 

Benzidine dyes 46 

Tolidine and allied dyes 48 

Patents in the German industry 48 

American attitude toward the German industry 51 

Producers of coal-tar crudes 52 

Manufacturers of heavy chemicals 52 

Manufacturers of artificial dyestuffs 52 

Consumers of artificial dyestuffs 53 

Economists. 54 

American Chemical Society, New York section 54 

Establishment of an American industry 55 

The problem in England and France 56 

Summary 57 



Department of Commerce, 
Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, 

Washington, March 20, 1915. 
Sir: There is submitted herewith a report by Commercial Agent 
Thomas H. Norton on dyes tuffs for American textile and other 
industries. This report was called for by a resolution of the Senate, 
under date of January 26, 1915. It presents fully the nature of the 
dyestuffs used by American industries and the sources of supply, 
showing the limited extent of the domestic manufacture and the 
general dependence upon foreign-made dyes. The predominance of 
Germany in this field is shown, and the reasons for this situation are 
detailed. All factors connected with the creation of a self-contained, 
independent, American coal-tar chemical industry are given in full, 
and the problems involved by a threatened cessation of the present 
foreign supply are considered. 

E. E. Pratt, 
Chief of Bureau. 
To Hon. William C. Redfield, 

Secretary of Commerce. 





Under date of January 26, 1915, the Senate of the United States 
passed the following resolution : 

H< solved, That the Secretary of Commerce be, and he is hereby, directed to inform 
the Senate as fully as possible as to the facts relating to the supply of dyestuffs for 
American textile and other industries, the sources of such supply, the extent and 
nature of the supply, the movement of prices, the available materials for the manu- 
facture of such supplies in this country, the possibilities, if any, as to the stoppage of 
such supply by reason of the existing European war, and any and all such other facts 
aa will bring the existing conditions in the aniline color industry fully to the knowledge 
of the Senate. 

In response to this resolution, the Secretary of Commerce com- 
municated to the Senate, under date of February 20, 1915, the fol- 
lowing preliminary report, which summarizes the main facts and 
outlines the scope of the full report as here given. 


Numerous American industries are closely dependent upon the use 
of dyestuffs. To the great textile branches they are almost as essen- 
tial as their supplies of vegetable or animal fibers. The same con- 
dition exists in the paint, varnish, and ink trades, the paper indus- 
try, the feather and leather trades, and a group of minor industries, 
dependent upon the products of these industries are a host of other 
branches, all users of textiles. The old-time natural dyestuffs, 
such as indigo, madder, cochineal, orchil, fustic, and a score more, 
have no longer an extended use, with the exception of logwood, 
which still plays a valued auxiliary role. The same is the case with 
mineral colors, with some inconsiderable exceptions, such as Prus- 
sian blue in silks and iron buff in khaki. 

Artificial dyestuffs, derived from coal-tar products, have displaced 
nearly all rivals, combining qualities of fastness, ease of application, 
brilliancy, variety of shades, etc., utterly unknown to the former 
generation of dyers. 


The American consumption of artificial dyestuffs has attained an 
annual value of $15,000,000, and grows steadily. 

It is supplied partly by a domestic production valued at about 
$3,000,000. This apparent domestic production is based chiefly upon 
the use of foreign materials — half-made or nearly completed color 
compounds. But a small portion is made from American crude coal- 
tar compounds. 



The great bulk of the artificial dyestuff supply comes from Europe. 
The average imports are: From Germany, $7,850,000; Switzerland, 
$910,000; Great Britain and others, $370,000; total, $9,130,000. 

Since August 1, 1914, in consequence of the outbreak of hostilities 
in Europe, this foreign supply has been interrupted and constantly 
threatened with nearly complete cessation. Until the present date, 
German makers have been able to supply a considerable proportion 
of the normal demands of their customers, but not entirely. Some 
important dyes are totally unobtainable. Prices have mounted from 
25 to 50 per cent on such dyestuffs as can be delivered. The imports 
may cease any day through inability to make shipments, on account 
of maritime dangers, or what is more probable, through the military 
necessity of commandeering the available supply of the chief coal- 
tar crude material, benzol, for use as a motor fuel, or diverting the 
limited supply of nitric acid — the chief chemical used in color manu- 
facture — to the manufacture of explosives. 

The multitude of users of dyestuffs in the United States have 
been crippled in various ways, forced to change designs, or abandon 
certain products, or to revert to a temporary use of natural dye- 
stuffs, with all the accessory readjustment and revolution in dyeing 
processes. On every hand there is difficulty in meeting contract 
specifications and in making definite plans and agreements for the 
future. The importation of dyewood has quickly increased. It is 
now four times as great as in normal times. Prices of these dyewoods 
have mounted. Fustic, for example, has doubled in price. 

The four American establishments making artificial dyestuffs have 
done their best to meet the emergency by enlarging the ordinary 
output. They have been crippled by the difficulties or impossibility 
of securing half-manufactured materials from abroad or crude ma- 
terials at home. Some large consumers of dyestuffs have erected 
emergency plants and make the colors they absolutely need, but at 
considerable cost. 


In all this annoyance, loss, and uncertainty why do we not have an 
American coal-tar chemical industry, capable of meeting the Nation's 
demands, self-contained and independent of foreign control, utiliz- 
ing our native raw material? 

A careful analysis of the situation shows that not only is the 
American * supply and the limited American production of coal-tar 
dyestuffs completely dominated by the German industry, but that 
this is the case throughout the world. Even countries such as 
Great Britain and France, with ample supplies of crude material and 
highly developed industrial power, are in the same condition as the 
United States. 

In 1913 the total consumption of artificial dyestuffs in the world 
had attained a value of over $92,000,000. Germany furnished 74 
per cent of the entire amount and over one-half of the materials 
needed to make the remainder. The only country, in addition to 
Germany, manufacturing dyestuffs in any noteworthy manner for 
the world's markets is Switzerland. That country relies, however, 
for its crude and half-manufactured materials chiefly upon German 
sources. The dominance of Germany in the dyestuff production and 


commerce of the entire world is so marked, and inherently of such 
potential might, that it docs not hesitate to make itself felt when- 
ever and wherever an effort is made toward emancipation from its 
control. The methods used are those often associated with the 
working of great industrial corporations in various lands and now 
effectively cheeked by legal enactment in the United States. In the 
case of the German coal-tar chemical industry, the field is intcrna- 
tional and its operations are unchecked by law. Its influence has 
been felt at once in our own country when efforts to manufacture 
intermediate compounds or finished dyes threatened in any way the 
interests of the German production and trade. 


The coal-tar chemical industry includes not only the manufacture 
of dyestuffs, but of a number of valuable medicinal preparations, and 
of various high explosives. It is based upon the use of crude com- 
pounds present to a small extent in the tar obtained in the de- 
structive distillation of coal in gas works and coke ovens. These 
10 crude compounds — benzol, carbolic acid, anthracene, etc. — are 
separated from some 145 other substances present in tar, by frac- 
tional distillation. This is the work of the tar distiller. From the 10 
crudes, nearly 300 more complex compounds, none of them dyes, 
are produced by highly refined and complicated chemical and me- 
chanical processes, involving in most cases a number of complete 
chemical transformations. These serve as the materials for the 
manufacture of about 920 dyestuffs now in current use. 

In the case of Germany, the domestic supply of ' ' crudes ' ' is amply 
sufficient. The color factories make all of the 300 intermediates re- 
quired for Germany's own industry and a large share of those used 
in the very restricted production of other lands. 

The industry has been chiefly developed by the inventive power 
of German chemists, combined with a wealth of technical skill and 
keen business management, scarcely equaled in the history of any 
other branch of manufacture. The 21 German companies engaged 
in the dyestuff manufacture have a nommal capital of over 
$36,700,000 on which dividends average 22 per cent. Actual profits 
often reach 50 per cent. The great excesses have been devoted to 
new construction. It is the most remunerative industry in the 
Empire, the one most solidly and formidably intrenched, the one of 
which the nation is most proud as showing the triumph of science 
applied to industrial purposes, and the one illustrating most strik- 
ingly the ability to win and maintain international supremacy in a 
given field. 


In the United States the supply of coal tar is ample, sufficient to 
provide in abundance all of the crudes required for the manufacture 
of the dyestuffs consumed in the country. The amount of valuable 
by-products not yet recovered in our present coking plants amounts 
to $75,000,000 annually. With adequate provision to save all the 
benzol and tar liberated in American coke ovens, enough of the 10 
crudes could be secured to more than cover the world's consumption 
in making artificial dyestuffs. 


If a commercial demand is present, American tar works can 
quickly provide all of the crudes needed, practically as cheaply as 
in Europe. In the manufacture of intermediates the production is 
restricted to four or five compounds, and these cover about one- 
quarter of the needs of American color works. 

Our manufacture of heavy chemicals is well developed, able to 
expand rapidly, and supply all needed chemicals for the production 
of intermediates and their transformation into finished dyes. 

The four establishments devoted to the production of dyes supply 
nearly 100 different colors, largely, however, as already stated, by 

11 assembling" nearly finished products of foreign origin. These 
American firms are bold and enterprising, commanding about 
$3,000,000 capital, evidently doing the best they can under existing 
conditions to build up a national industry. 

Investigation shows that their advance, beyond certain limits, 
in the manufacture of either intermediate or finished dyes is per- 
sistently checked and prevented by the united action of German 
producers in underselling. The entire German color industry is so 
completely organized and accustomed to act as a unit in furthering 
the general interests, at home and abroad, that little success in facing 
their determined opposition has heretofore been obtained. 

The present crisis has evoked deep interest on the part of all con- 
cerned—tar distillers, manufacturers of chemicals, manufacturers 
of dyestuffs, the many users of the same, and American economists 
in general — as to how the problem can be settled. There is no ques- 
tion but that our coke interests are ready to multiply their recovery 
plants for the production of benzol and tar, if a permanent market is 
assured. There is no question of the readiness of tar distillers to 
enlarge their plants for the production of an ample supply of the 
needed crudes if a continued demand is certain. American chemical 
works and American manufacturers of dyestuffs are ready to embark 
capital and experience in building up a distinctly American coal-tar 
chemical industry, using entirely American crudes and intermedi- 
ates, provided there is adequate legislative prohibition against both 
" dumping" or unfair restraint of American trade by the arbitrary 
action of foreign monopoly permitted by foreign law and not as yet 
forbidden by our own. Domestic makers assert their ability to 
make at once over 90 per cent of the dyes now consumed in the 
United States, which are now patent-free, and state that the remain- 
ing tenth will soon be freed from patent restriction. 


There seems to be a consensus of opinion that any rapid develop- 
ment and evolution of the dyestuff branch, on a scale commensurate 
with the Nation's needs, present and prospective, can be assured only 
on the basis of an effective law preventing that action toward con- 
trol of our markets by a foreign monopoly which is now prohibited 
to a domestic monopoly. Some of the largest manufacturers have 
personally informed the department that what is needed is not a 
tariff change, but laws placing a foreign monopoly on the same basis 
as an American one. 

American economists feel that the present crisis offers the most 
favorable moment to decide upon a policy with regard to this one 


important industry, whether it is to be firmly rooted in American 
soil or whether the dependence noon a foreign source is to continue 
indefinitely. It is pointed out that each year elapsing increases in 

geometrical ratio the difficulties attendant upon any attempt to create 
a self-contained American dyestuff industry. Further, it is claimed 
that it is tlio oidy highly organized industry not yet brought on a 
broad and generous scale within the cycle of American economic 

In England and France the textde and other branches have 
insisted that the national industries must be permanently freed from 
dependence upon a foreign source for one of the vital needs of the 
most varied manufactures. Within a fortnight the group of French 
chemists intrusted with the problem claim that they have satisfac- 
torily solved all difficulties m the way. During the same period 
the necessary steps have been taken in England, where the Govern- 
ment has provided for the organization of a national company to 
create an independent dyestuff industry, contributing nearly 
$2,000,000 to its capital, and granting at the same time $500,000 for 
the requisite research laboratory. 


There is a large and steadily growing consumption of dyestufls in 
the United States required in a variety of industries. The most 
important of these industries are: Textiles — cotton, silk, woolen, etc.; 
paints and pigments; varnishes; inks; leather articles; feathers. 

A great variety of industries, in addition, are closely dependent 
upon the above for all that concerns color effects. Prominent among 
these are the printing trades; automobile and carriage manufacture; 
implement manufacture; paper trade; soap trade; upholstery trade; 
millinery, dressmaking, etc. 

Further, a notable and increasing number of preparations made 
from by-products and accessory products of the manufacture of 
artificial dyestuffs are now used in photography, medicine, the pro- 
duction of high explosives, and the manufacture of artificial per- 
fumes. Economically these are very closely interlocked with the 
dyes tuff industry. 

Directly and indirectly, a large proportion of American industries 
are dependent upon a constant and varied supply of dyestuffs. 


The dyestuffs consumed by American industries fall into three 
classes: Natural organic dyes, mineral dyes, and artificial organic 

Until about 1860 the dyeing trades were restricted to the use of 
preparations falling in the first two classes. Soon after that date the 
earlier aniline colors were introduced into general use. The number 
and variety of these artificial products, made from the different con- 
stituents of coal tar, rapidly increased. It was soon possible to 
replace, in most cases with very pronounced advantages, every tint 
and shade yielded by natural and mineral dyes, and, in addition, to 
increase greatly the hues available for color designs in a multitude 
of industries. The use of the older dyeing materials, both organic 
and mineral, quickly lessened. To-day, and for some years past, 
the great bulk of the dyestuffs consumed in the United States con- 
sists of synthetic products of the coal-tar chemical industry. The 
dyestuffs of an earlier day have been in most cases almost completely 
superseded. In a few instances they play a minor and humble role, 
chiefly as accessories in the use of the artificial dyes. 


The natural organic dyes are conveniently classified in four sub- 
divisions: (1) Indigo; (2) logwood; (3) red dyes; (4) yellow dyes. 

(1) Indigo. — This substance, obtained from various plants of the 
genus Indigofera, was for centuries the most important of all dyestuffs. 
Until quite recently it was supplied from Asiatic countries, chiefly 
from India, and to some extent from tropical America. The natural 
dyestuff is now replaced almost entirely by the synthetic product, 
which has manifest advantages in uniformity of strength and shade, 
as well as in price. The amount of natural indigo now used in the 
United States is about 7 per cent of the total amount of indigo. 



(2) Logwood. — This dye is extracted from campeachy wood, found 
in tropical and subtropical America. Our supply comes almost 
entirely from Jamaica. The extraction of the coloring matter from 
the wood is done usually in American mills, although a certain 
amount of extract is also imported. Next to indigo, logwood was, 
until the past half century, the most important dyes tuff known. It 
was universally employed for the dyeing of black on all classes of 
fabrics, as was indigo for the production of blue. It is to-day the 
only natural coloring matter, except indigo, employed extensively 
by the dyer. While of limited application now on cotton and wool, 
for the production of very cheap blacks, there is still a large amount 
used in dyeing silk, to the fiber of which it gives greater opacity than 
can be obtained from coal-tar dyes. There is also an extended use 
in dyeing leather. Considerable amounts are employed in connection 
with dyes tuffs, in order to tone slightly the shade produced. 

(3) Red dyes. — These include among the dyewoods, Brazil wood, 
peach wood, Japan wood, and Lima wood, which yield soluble 
tinctorial matters; and barwood, camwood, and Saunders wood, 
which contain insoluble coloring substances. None of these to-day 
has more than a very limited use. Most of the woods in question 
are supplied by Central America and South America. 

Madder, obtained from the root of the Rubia tinctoria, used for 
centuries to produce the famous " Turkey red," has now almost dis- 
appeared from commerce. Its coloring principle, alizarin, has been 
manufactured synthetically from the anthracene of coal tar since 
1871. A small amount of the root is still imported. 

Cochineal, a brilliant scarlet, extracted from the female of the 
insect Coccus cacti, found abundantly on the cactus plant in Mexico 
and Central America, was once a valued dye for woolens, and is still 
employed to dye the uniforms of the British army. It resisted 
longer than madder the invasion of artificial dyestuffs, but its use 
in the United States is now very limited. 

Orchil and its dried extract, cudbear, found very extensive use 
in producing purplish-red and reddish-brown shades on wool and on 
silk. It is extracted from lichens, found in abundance on the sea- 
coasts of subtropical countries. Lower California formerly yielded 
great quantities. At present the use is restricted and limited chiefly 
to toning the effects produced by other dyes. 

Annatto, from the fruit of the Bixa orellana, in South America, 
has a limited application in silk dyeing. It is more largely used to 
color cheese. 

Safflower, the dried florets of Carthamus tinctorius, has a very 
slight use for imparting pinks to cheap cottons. 

(4) Yellow dyes. — The principal yellow dye is fustic, obtained from 
the wood of Morus tinctoria, a tree occurring abundantly in the 
West Indies and Central and South America. Formerly used largely 
for yellows and olives, it now finds a limited employment for toning 
logwood effects, especially on woolens. 

Quercitron, extracted from a species of oak in the Middle and 
Southern States, still has a limited use in calico printing. 

Persian berries, the unripe berries of the buckthorn, imported 
from the Orient, are also used to a slight extent for calico printing. 

Turmeric, extracted from Curcuma tinctoria, an Asiatic root, has 
a very restricted use, chiefly in producing composite shades. 



Cutch, obtained from an Indian variety of acacia, is employed 
slightly for a few brown shades, but more extensively as a tannin 
mordant on cottons. 

The displacement of these natural dyes by artificial colors was not 
due entirely to the fact that the latter could often be manufactured 
more cheaply. Most of the vegetable dyes were far removed from 
being pure dyes tuffs. The extracts obtained from woods and plants 
contained, in addition, a variety of non-tinctorial substances, resins, 
tannins, sugars, pectinous bodies, etc. It was practically impossible 
to isolate the pure coloring matter. As a consequence, the extracts 
varied seriously in their strength, and the colors imparted were dull. 
The processes of dyeing became easier, simpler, and cheaper, and 
could be readily standardized. It was further possible to extend 
greatly the range of colors. Many tones and shades, hitherto un- 
known, were at the service of the dyer. Most important of all was 
the fact that the artificial dyestuffs, as a rule, were fast as compared 
with most of the natural colors. Indigo was the fastest color, and 
still represents the standard for comparison. Madder was practically 
as fast, but neither could be obtained from their vegetable sources in 
a form at all pure or approaching uniformity. The synthetic prod- 
ucts were pure and of uniform strength. Cochineal was a fairly fast 
color, faster than the earlier coal-tar scarlets; and although the latter 
were cheaper, the animal dyes tuff held its own until the appearance 
of anthracene and chrome scarlets, which possessed even higher de- 
grees of permanence. 

The other natural dyestuffs enumerated above were highly fugitive, 
as compared with the corresponding coal-tar colors, which appeared 
in rapid succession from 1860 on. Logwood was fast to washing, but 
not very resistant to light or on exposure to weather. It held its 
own, however, until the appearance of the fast alizarin blacks. Even 
now it is employed largely for cheap grades of cotton and woolen, 
and is the one natural dyestuff that continues to maintain a rela- 
tively important position in the dyeing branch. 

AVith regard to the sources of the natural organic dyestuffs, it will 
be noticed that the present supply of the United States is chiefly 
drawn from the tropical and subtropical regions of the Western 
Hemisphere. A few materials — natural indigo, cutch, Persian berries, 
madder, and turmeric — come from Asia. A single dyestuff, quercit- 
ron, is indigenous to the United States. 


The following table gives the quantity and value of the imports of 
natural organic dyestuffs into the United States for the fiscal year 
ending June 30, 1913: 







Annatto pounds. . 








88, 716 

475, 484 


Madder, ground pounds. . 

Madder, extract do 




Cochineal pounds. . 

Cudbear do 










93, 146 

Persian berries,extract pounds. . 
Safflower, saffron 




Indigo, natural pounds. . 

Logwood tons. . 

Logwood (and other wood) ex- 
tracts pounds.. 





The use of inorganic coloring materials for the production of dyeing 
effects by direct precipitatioD in the fibers of textiles was formerly of 
considerable Importance. Most, of the processes once in vogue are 
now completely obsolete 4 . The few still in occasional use arc of minor 
value and limited application. They are comprised in the following 

Chrome yellow and orange. — These are dependent upon the use of 
lead acetate and potassium bichromate. 

Iron bujf. — Obtained by the precipitation of ferric hydroxide from 
soluble iron salts. 

Iron gray. — Obtained by the precipitation of tannate of iron from 
soluble salts. 

Manganese brown. — Precipitation of manganic oxide from soluble 
manganese salts. 

Chrome green. — Obtained by the use of chrome alum. In combi- 
nation with iron buff this is now employed to some extent to produce 
the popular khaki effects. 

Prussian blue. — Obtained by the use of potassium ferrocyanide 
and soluble iron salts. There is a somewhat extended use, in connec- 
tion with other coloring materials, for the dyeing of silk. 

Most of the mineral dyestuffs enumerated above are currently 
manufactured in the United States. Manganese compounds are, 
however, usually imported from Europe, and potassium ferrocyanide 
is chiefly of foreign origin. In 1913 the import of this salt from 
Europe reached a value of $309,000. 


The great volume of the dyestuffs consumed by American indus- 
tries to-day consists of organic compounds, usually of very complex 
composition, the raw materials for which are found in the products 
of the destructive distillation of coal, as carried on in the retorts 
of gas works or ovens for manufacturing coke. As already men- 
tioned, the first of these artificial dyestuffs appeared a little over 
half a century ago, and rapidly, one after another, the natural 
organic dyes and the mineral dyes were displaced from their posi- 
tions and reduced to minor and subordinate rank, if not forced to dis- 
appear completely from use. 

The consumption of the artificial coal-tar colors in the United 
States has now assumed large dimensions. The increase in this 
consumption keeps even pace with the growth of American manu- 
facturing industries, and more especially with the development of 
the various textile branches. 

It has been of far-reaching influence in determining the expansion 
of cotton manufacture. While wool and silk were dyed with com- 
parative facility by vegetable dyes, the contrary was the case with 
cotton wares. The inert character of the cotton fiber toward tinc- 
torial substances, and the difficulty of mordanting it with metallic 
salts, caused a serious limitation in the range of colors and processes 
available for dyeing cotton materials, and greatly restricted their use. 
The discovery of aniline dyes, capable of dyeing cotton directly, 
was a notable step forward, despite the fact that these earlier prod- 

86201°— 15 2 


ucts were not very fast, and could not be employed on fabrics requir- 
ing much laundering. The later discovery of the fast vat dyes of 
the indigo class removed this restriction on the use of colored cotton 
goods. To-day cotton can be dyed in every variety' of tint, and 
the colors are practically fast, as permanent as the fiber itself. This 
has led to an enormous development in cotton manufacture, and the 
products are employed more and more extensively in household 
economy and for wearing apparel. 

The great bulk of the artificial dyes is, however, used on woolen 
fabrics. These can not be washed frequently without suffering from 
shrinkage and in other ways. Hence, if intended for articles of 
apparel and the like, they are almost always dyed, and usually in 
rather dark colors. This means large quantities of dyestuff. The 
same rule applies to the vast amounts of woolen material absorbed 
by the carpet, rug, and upholstery industries. Such wares require a 
great consumption of acid dyes, indigo, and the alizarin colors, with 
smaller amounts of the other fast vat dyes. Most of the latter, 
involving application in strongly alkaline solutions, are in conse- 
quence not adapted for use on wool fibers. 

The great diversity of the modern demands for colored textiles, 
paper, and the like, has called for equal diversity in the dyestuffs 
employed, not only as regards color, but also as regards fastness to 
light or washing. 

At present the American demand calls for over 900 different arti- 
ficial dyestuffs. A small group includes colors used in very large 
amounts. In another much more numerous group fall colors em- 
ployed in moderate but still noteworthy quantities. The majority 
of the dyes enumerated in current price fists are demanded in small 
amounts and for special purposes or qualities. This third category 
includes most of the very high-priced dyestuffs. The necessity of 
providing the great variety of colors found in this category is a 
dominant factor in the dyestuff industry. 


The demand for artificial dyes in the United States is met to some 
extent by the domestic coal-tar dye industry. The great bulk of 
dyes used, however, is imported from Europe, Germany being the 
chief source. 

It is not easy to estimate the value of the current annual produc- 
tion in the United States of coal-tar dyestuffs. Estimates furnished 
by those engaged in the manufacture range from $2,000,000 to 
$5,000,000. The census report of 1909 gives $3,462,000 as the 
value of artificial dyestuffs produced in that year. Among our 
exports of domestic manufacture there has been for five years an 
average export of "dyes and dyestuffs' 7 amounting to $345,000. It 
is doubtful whether artificial dyestuffs constitute any appreciable 
share of this item, a large portion of which goes to Canada. It is 
probable that the American consumption of artificial dyes of do- 
mestic origin does not vary much from $3,000,000 per annum. 

The returns of our foreign commerce for the fiscal years ending 
June 30, 1909-1914, give the following values for the imports into 
the United States of coal-tar dyestuffs: 










Alizarin and alizarin dyes 

Artificial indigo 

Other coal-tar dyes 




6, 022,'. 186 

L, 017,516 
6,965, 12] 

1,01 l, 181 

$845, 159 

7,211, 106 








Alizarin and indigo and their derivatives are imported duty free. 
Other artificial dyes'pay a duty of 30 per cent. The figures for indigo 
do not include natural indigo from Asia, and from British ports. 
The annual value of the imports of natural indigo has sunk from 
si.-)S,000 in 1909 to $78,000 in 1914. Coal-tar dyes paid in 1913 
duties amounting to $2,071,000 and in 1914 to $2,261,361. There 
is a small export, chiefly to Canada, of foreign-made artificial dyes. 
Its value in 1913 was $46,249, and in 1914 $38,257. 

The German official statistics for the calendar year 1913 give the 
export of dyes to the United States as $9,030,000, and the imports 
of such wares from the United States as $12,000. 

The average annual value of the imports of coal-tar dyes during 
the last three years was $8,781,736. This is the cost price abroad. 
With added amounts paid for duties, about $2,000,000, and expenses 
and profits, the sum annually expended for foreign coal-tar dyes 
exceeds $12,000,000. Assuming the value of the colors manufac- 
tured and employed in the United States to be approximately 
$3,000,000, it is found that xAmerican consumers are now paying 
annually about $15,000,000 for coal-tar dyes. 


If the general imports of coal-tar dyes into the United States are 
analyzed as to country of origin, the following is found to be the 
case for the imports of 1913: Of alizarin and derivatives, Germany 
supplies 99 per cent; of synthetic indigo, Germany supplies 96 per 
cent, and Switzerland, 2.4 per cent; of other coal-tar dyes, Germany 
supplies 81 per cent, Switzerland 12 per cent, the United Kingdom 
2.8 per cent, Belgium 2.5 per cent, and France 1.0 per cent. 

The import from Belgium is supposed to be largely of German 
origin. The total value of the German import in 1913 was $8,538,000. 
It constituted 86 per cent of the value of imported artificial dyestuffk 

The Swiss import reached $918,232. It formed 9 per cent of the 
total value. It will be seen that, apart from the modest contribution 
of Switzerland, the United States depends almost entirely on Ger- 
many for its supply of imported artificial dyestuffs. 


The economic dependence of the United States, and in fact of all 
nations, upon a single foreign source for the regular supply of an 
important class of manufactures is comparable in many respects to 
the general dependence upon Chile for saltpeter, upon Russia for 
platinum, and upon Germany for potash, all three being natural 


The danger inherent to such a state of dependence has been sharply 
brought to view in the world-wide experience of the last seven months. 
Some countries have been deprived almost entirely of their customary 
supplies of artificial dyes. In others, notably in our own land, the 
supply has been intermittent and its continuance uncertain. 

Thousands of American industrial plants and an army of opera- 
tives, with their dependents, have been threatened with a serious 
arrest of manufacturing activities. In many cases it has been im- 
possible to fill contracts; in a multitude of instances managers of 
large establishments have had to grapple seriously with the problem 
of how to continue manufacture with limited supplies or with no 
supplies of the customary coloring matters. 

Fortunately, after the first excitement following the outbreak of hos- 
tilities, in August, 1914, and the interruption for some weeks of all 
shipments of foreign dyestuffs, means were found to resume the ex- 
portation from Germany and Switzerland. By the close of 1914 most 
American manufacturers had been supplied with the majority of their 
customary supplies of coal-tar dyes in nearly normal amount. 

On August 1, 1914, the textile works had supplies adequate for the 
needs of their mills for two or three months. The German Govern- 
ment granted permission for the monthly export to the United States, 
in American vessels, of a maximum allowance of 2,300 tons of artificial 

The result has been that, while a few cases of hardship were una- 
voidable, and here and there changes in style, etc., were required, 
textile branches have not materially suffered thus far. 


There has been an increase in the cost of dyes, naturally inevitable 
with the rise in freight rates and insurance. In September, 1914, 
the average increase on foreign dyes was estimated at about 25 per 
cent. Since then there has been a rise of about the same amount. 
The price of alizarin is now about 50 per cent above that of August, 
1914. In some instances very abnormal rates are quoted. Ben- 
zopurpurin, an important cotton dye, selling ordinarily at 14 cents 
per pound, is now (Mar. 15) quoted at 80 cents. 

American manufacturers of dyes have been able to retain old 
rates on about one-third of their products, while the prices of the 
rest have doubled in consequence of the increased cost of raw mate- 
rial. In general, there has been a pleasant concurrence of opinion 
on the part of American consumers of dyestuffs that the few American 
manufacturers in this branch have taken no undue advantage of the 
critical situation, and, further, that the resident agents of foreign 
makers have shown great resolution and energy in seeking to secure 
supplies for their regular customers and in distributing equitably 
such as have been received. 


While nearly enough coal-tar dyes are now being shipped from 
Germany to meet the current needs of American consumers, the 
fact is not disguised on either side of the ocean that at any moment 
this supply may be largely or totally suspended. Several factors 
enter here into consideration. Naval operations in the existing war 


may assume such a character that maritime connections with the 
port of Rotterdam may be completely severed. There is in this case 
a possibility of utilizing an Italian port, such as Genoa, from which 
small amounts of dyes haw already been shipped to Now York. 

The Gorman supply of benzol may be commandeered for use in 
mot tus in place of gasoline. Benzol is the raw material absolutely 
essential for the manufacture of the majority of aniline dyes. 

The German Government may require for military purposes, in the 
manufacture of explosives, the entire available stock of nitric acid. 
'Phis would be practically equivalent to closing nearly every factory 
engaged in making dyestuffs. There is hardly a dye made, except 
alizarin, in the manufacture of which nitric acid is not required. 

Some classes of dyestuffs may be crippled in their manufacture by 
the lack of an important raw material. Carbolic acid is used in large 
amounts for the manufacture of explosives. It is also indispen- 
sable for the production of a variety of dyes. 

It is thus evident that any prolongation of the existing war increases 
the probabilities of a serious famine in artificial dyestuffs. 


Responsible heads of textile works who have studied the problem 
find three outlets from the dilemma: 

(1) The textile industries may be forced to put upon the market, 
to a large extent, goods that are undyed. This would be an unsatis- 
factory solution. The demand for such goods would certainly fall 
below the normal, and there would be a serious drop in prices. 

(2) A return may be made temporarily to the use of natural dye- 
stuffs. In some instances vegetable substitutes can be obtained with 
tolerable rapidity. This would be particularly the case with logwood. 
The output can be quickly increased and provision made for dyeing 
black on both cottons and woolens, although at the sacrifice of fast- 
ness. Fairly ample supplies of orchil can be secured at short notice 
and can be used for reds and browns in dyeing carpets and woolens 
generally. There would also be no great delay in obtaining a stock 
of yellow woods. Considerable time would be lost, however, before 
the coloring matters could be extracted and properly treated in order 
to develop desired strength and quality. In the case of indigo and 
madder several years would elapse before the needed stocks could be 
obtained. It would be scarcely possible to collect more than a frac- 
tion of the cochineal required for scarlets. The majority of tints 
now in common use could not be produced at all. Needless to say, 
there would be involved a revolution in the methods of dyeing. 

(3) The attempt could be made to build up rapidly an American 
coal-tar dyestuff industry, self-contained and independent, based 
upon the use of American raw materials, and providing American 
consumers with all needed artificial dyestuffs. This would certainly 
demand some time, but would insure permanent freedom in the future 
from the dangers to which so many of our great industries are now 

The desirability, and even urgency, of adopting the necessary 
measures for the creation of such a national industry have been ad- 
vocated most earnestly by consumers of dyestuffs, by chemists, and 
by economists. 


It seems proper here to consider why such a complete industry has 
not yet been established in the United States, and under what con- 
ditions it can be called into existence. This involves a study of the 
existing coal-tar chemical industry in the United States, its limita- 
tions, and its successes, and a study of the German coal-tar industry, 
with the explanation of its present technical and commercial domi- 
nation in the world's trade. 


When coal undergoes destructive distillation in coke ovens or gas 
retorts, the average products are as follows: Coke, 72 per cent; gas, 
22 per cent; tar, 6 per cent. 

The tar contains some 155 different chemical compounds, none of 
which are dyes. Ten of these substances are utilized in the manu- 
facture of dyestuffs. They are: Benzol, toluol, xylol, phenol, cresol, 
naphthalene, anthracene, methyl anthracene, phenanthrene, and car- 
bazol. The first three are present to a considerable extent in the 
crude gas, given off on distillation. Only by the use of specially 
designed purifiers can they be removed or separated. 

The 10 substances enumerated form 6 to 12 per cent of the coal 
tar, the amounts varying according to the character of distillation. 
The average yield is about as follows: 

Percent- Percent- 
Substances, age of age of 

tar. coal. 

Benzol, toluol, xylol 1. 75 0. 115 

Phenol, cresol .25 . 015 

Naphthalene 5. 95 .357 

Anthracene and remaining compounds .20 . 012 

These 10 primary, or crude, coal-tar products are separated from 
one another, and from the great variety of carbon compounds accom- 
panying them in the tar, by fractional distillation. This operation 
is carried on in the tar distilleries, which supply likewise pitch, creo- 
sote oil, naphtha, and other crude mixtures of coal-tar constituents. 

From the 10 primary " crudes," chemical works of a high charac- 
ter prepare nearly 300 so-called "intermediates," compounds that 
are not dyes, but which are susceptible by direct reactions of being 
transformed into coloring matters. A number of these intermediates 
serve also in the manufacture of medicinal preparations, photo- 
graphic chemicals, etc. Leading intermediates are aniline oil and 
salts, pure aniline and toluidine, nitrobenzol, naphthol, phthalic acid, 
salicylic acid, resorcin, anthraquinone, etc. These intermediate 
products serve as the raw material for the manufacturer of dyes. 
From them he makes over 900 different dyestuffs now currently 
sold in the world's markets. 

In a general way it may be stated that the average intermediate 
sells for five times as much as the average crude coal-tar derivative, 
and the average finished dye for ten times as much, a very material 
enhancement in value. 

The number of intermediates now in active use does not exhaust 
the possibilities in this class. Many hundred more are known to the 
chemist and can be employed in dye manufacture. Less than 300 

nvKSTrn-'s i'oi; am kkkwx i n mistimes. 21 

have been found sufficient fco meet the needs of makers and to com- 
bine technical with economic advantages. 

The same may be said of finished dyes. The number of possible 
distinct dyestuffs covered by patent specifications up to the present 
would run into the millions. Of the many possibilities only 900 have. 
won a recognized position, and of (hose only 400 are of very extended 

It is doubtful whether many additions of value will be made to the 
current list of artificial dyestuffs in the immediate future. The field 
has been worked most thoroughly by color chemists. During the 
past decade oidy a single new class of dyes has been discovered and 
placed on the market. 

Briefly summarizing the coal-tar clyestuff industry, the following 
features are obviously essential to success: 

The presence of an ample supply of coal. 

The extensive use of this coal for gas and coke manufacture. 

The use of a plant that allows the recovery of the volatile organic compounds formed 
during destructive distillation. 

The industrial treatment of the tar produced, so as to separate and furnish in a 
fairly pure form 10 crude substances. 

The existence of well-equipped chemical works, able to transform the 10 crudes 
into nearly 300 more complex intermediate compounds. 

The existence of highly organized works for manufacturing from these intermediates 
some 900 different dyestuffs. 

An ample and sine supply of a variety of acids and heavy chemicals for effecting 
the numerous transformations. 

A relatively large number of chemists who have enjoyed university training. 


Considering the natural resources and economic conditions of the 
United States, it could reasonably be expected that a well-developed 
coal-tar chemical industry would nourish here. 

The coal supply is abundant. The unmined coal deposits are five 
times greater than the reserves of Europe. Large amounts of coal 
are used in furnishing an illuminant and fuel for a population of 
100,000,000. Still larger amounts are consumed in providing coke 
for the enormous iron and steel industry. 

The consumption of artificial dyestuffs is large — about $15,000,000 
in value annually, as already noted. 

The many universities and schools of science are furnishing yearly 
a considerable number of w^ell-equipped young chemists. 

Nearly all of the world's great industries are encountered in the 
United States, finery developed, wdth high standards of efficiency. 

And yet, despite these favoring conditions, the production of arti- 
ficial dyestuffs in the United States is hardly half of that manufactured 
in Switzerland, a small country without a coal mine. 


The first aniline dye, mauve, was discovered by Perkins, in England, 
in 1856. It was followed in the same year by magenta and fuchsine, 
and the manufacture began in England on a small and not very re- 
munerative scale. Little progress was made until the appearance, in 
1862, of the soluble blues. Then followed in 1863, Hoffman's violet 
and Bismarck brown; in 1864, naphthol yellow; in 1867, the nigro- 


The manufacture was taken up with great energy in both Germany 
and Switzerland. A vast amount of patient, intelligent, and careful 
research was expended upon the new field. The industry was started 
in France and England, but with less zeal and scientific research. 

In 1871 artificial alizarin appeared, and a few years later saw the 
discovery of chrysoidine, malachite green, eosine, and a number of the 
current standard dyes. The manufacture was growing rapidly in 
Germany and becoming well intrenched. 

During this period the consumption of aniline dyes assumed large 
proportions in the United State, which became the leading customer 
of the German factories. 

There seemed a good opening for American enterprise, and in 1879 
the first establishment for the manufacture of artificial dyestuffs was 
started at Buffalo. Eight others were opened soon after. At that 
time the manufacture was based upon the use of the intermediates 
imported from Europe. It was difficult to obtain an adequate supply 
of benzol from domestic tar works. The Buffalo works did, for a few 
years beginning with 1884, make its own aniline oil, but was forced 
to abandon the attempt on account of the uncertainty of obtaining 
the raw material. 

The industry was exceedingly remunerative at the outset. There 
seemed to be a good prospect of soon becoming independent of other 
nations in this branch, except so far as patent protection existed, 
although for the time being the industry was based upon the use of 
intermediates of foreign origin, procured from Germany and Great 

In 1883, however, the growth of the industry was suddenly checked. 
Within a year five of the nine establishments were forced to close. 
The other four continued to manufacture on a close margin. These 
four having been carefully conducted, have gradually developed and 
now seem to be flourishing. The capital invested is estimated at 
$2,000,000 to $3,000,000 and the annual output is about $3,000,000. 
There is not much competition between the different firms, each spe- 
cializing to some extent, one for woolen dyes, another for cotton, 
another for paper, etc. All have to meet keen competition on the 
part of the representatives of German manufacturing firms, and the 
claim is made that they have to contend with underselling. Three of 
these establishments are in the vicinity of New York. The oldest and 
largest is still located in Buffalo. It has shown a commendable 
degree of enterprise, having taken out 16 patents for new colors and 
intermediate products. Two of its patented products are manufac- 
tured extensively in Germany under license. 

These firms have employed intermediates, mostly from Germany, 
as the basis of their manufacture. The works at Buffalo have, 
however, as already mentioned, made aniline oil on a large scale, 
and have also demonstrated their ability to manufacture in tech- 
nically pure form quite a group of intermediates, such as nitrobenzol, 
dinitrobenzol, nitrotoluol, dinitrotoluol, dimethylaniline, and a va- 
riety of sulphoacids. Pure phenol and pure naphthalene have also 
been made in their works. In all cases the production has been 
abandoned because German makers reduced their prices on interme- 
diates to such an extent that competition became hopeless. 

During the last seven months, when it has been almost impossible to 
obtain intermediates from Europe, the American works nave hur- 


riedly put up emergency plants and made the requisite intermediates 
at considerable expense in order to avoid a complete stoppage. In 
this connection material assistance lias been rendered by the intro- 
duction in 1911 of the manufacture of uitrobenzol and aniline oil 
and salts in the works of one of the largest American companies en- 
gaged in the production of chemicals. This company has been able 
to supply about one-quarter of the demand of American dyestuff 
manufacturers for the intermediates in question. 

The quality of these compounds has been recognized as fully equal 
to that of European products, and the ability to make these com- 
pounds in the United States from American benzol, so hotly con- 
tested on the other side of the ocean, has been abundantly demon- 

A plant is now under erection that will be able to provide for one- 
half of the needs of the American color makers, as far as aniline oil 
and salts are concerned, and will be capable of easy expansion. 

The dyes manufactured by the four American establishments are 
chiefly standard colors, called for in fairly large quantities, on which 
patent rights have expired. They number about 100 and represent 
the active types in the trade. No attempt is made to manufacture 
synthetic indigo, which remains under patent protection for a few 
years longer, or alizarin, which requires an exceedingly expensive 
plant. Both of these dyestuffs are on the free list. 

Mention should be made of a fifth factory for making coal-tar dyes 
which has been established in the State of New York by one of the 
largest German firms engaged in the manufacture. This branch 
house, according to statements, is occupied with the transformation 
of intermediates into finished dyes, especially in such cases where the 
series of operations is costly, and the last steps relatively simple and 
inexpensive. There is manifestly a temptation to utilize tariff pro- 
visions in this manner, and the practice is probably not limited to 
the one foreign branch. An unfinished dyestuff pays 10 per cent 
duty or no duty, as compared with a duty of 30 per cent on the 
finished product. The cost of the last steps in "assembling" the 
finished dye, may, however, be less than 1 per cent of its total value. 

Reviewing the growth and present status of the manufacture of 
artificial dyestuffs in the United States, it may be said that all has 
practically been accomplished that could safely be attempted in the 
face of exceptionally powerful competition. Those conducting these 
industries have shown an abundant measure of perseverance and 
patience in facing economic difficulties and gradually building up as 
extensive a structure as now exists. There seems to be present a 
determination and readiness to invest capital and energy on a large 
scale in expanding the industry as soon as the factors of safety are 


As already noted, attempts in the past to manufacture intermediates 
have been hampered by the insufficiency of the domestic supply of 
coal-tar crudes. It is desirable at this point to know exactly how 
far the recovery of the by-products of American gas works and coke 
ovens is developed and to what extent they can supply in the im- 
mediate future the crudes needed by an expanded coal-tar chemical 
industry. The two sources of coal tar are gas works and coke plants. 



In 1909, according to the census returns, the coal used in American 
gas works amounted to 4,941,000 tons, valued at $16,305,000. At 
the same time 580,000,000 gallons of oil, valued at $17,346,000, were 
employed hi the production of gas. The tar collected was 92,153,000 
gallons. Of this quantity 78,340,000 gallons, valued at $1,876,000, 
appear to have come into the market. The valuation is a little 
over 2 cents per gallon. This tar is not rich in the hydrocarbons 
benzol, toluol, and xylol, as it is sought to retain as large a volume 
as possible of these volatile constituents in the gas, in order to in- 
crease the illuminating power. Coal gas usually contains from 0.5 
to 1.2 per cent of benzol and its homologues. On an average, when 
coal is distilled, 100 pounds of coal yield 1.25 pounds of benzol and 
its higher homologues that are present in the gas evolved. Of this 
amount 0.94 pound is pure benzol, and 0.31 poimd is toluol and 
xylol. A small additional amount is found in the tar. It consists 
of 0.05 pound of benzol, and 0.08 pound of toluol and xylol. 

The coal tar from gas works contains on an average 0.32 per cent 
of pure benzol, 0.50 per cent of toluol and xyol, 0.26 per cent of pure 
phenol, 4.5 per cent of pure naphthalene, and 0.44 per cent of pure 

Assuming that the present American production of gas tar amounts 
to 100,000,000 gallons, this represents about 1,000,000,000 pounds, or 
500,000 short tons. From this quantity it is possible, on the above 
figures, to extract: Benzol, 1,600 tons; toluol and xylol, 2,500 tons; 
phenol, 1,300 tons; naphthalene, 22,500 tons; anthracene, 2,200 tons; 
and the minor constituents, cresol, phenanthrene, etc., in proportion. 


The majority of the coke plants in the United States are equipped 
with old-fashioned beehive ovens, which allow all gas, ammonia, and 
tar to be wasted. 

Modern recovery ovens, with condensation plants, have been in- 
stalled to some extent in this country. Their use is much more 
extended in European coke works, especially in Germany, where 
nearly all the by-products are saved. In 1913 there were 102,650 
coke ovens in the United States, and of these only 5,688 were retort, 
or recovery, ovens. The increase during the year of such ovens was 
477. There was a decrease in the number of beehive ovens of 57. 
At the close of the year 504 retort ovens were under construction, and 
contracts had been made for building many more. During 1913, 
30,485 beehive ovens — 31.4 per cent of the entire number — were idle 
throughout the entire year. 

In 1912 the amount of coal used for coke plants reached 65,578000, 
short tons. The coke produced totaled 32,S69,000 tons, valued at 
$69,172,000, from beehive ovens, and 11,115,000 tons, valued at 
$42,633,000, from recovery ovens; in all, 43,984,000 tons, valued at 
$111,805,000. The coke obtained from the recovery ovens repre- 
sents 25 per cent of the total product in quantity and 38 per cent in 

The retort ovens are expensive, but the increased outlay is more 
than compensated by the value of the ammonia, tar, and gas recov- 


ered, especially if there is an adequate demand al band for the gas. 
The recovery plants contain the necessary condensers for collecting 
ammonia and tar, bul are not always provided with the "scrubbers, 
or benzol towers, designed to extract from the otherwise purified gas 
the benzol and toluol present therein and enhancing the value for 
illuminating purposes. 

In the towers the current of gas comes in contact with the heavier 
oils obtained in the distillation of coal tar, and the benzol and toluol 
present are largely absorbed by them. The oils, when saturated, are 
inn into a still, and the benzol and toluol are driven out by heat and 
are collected in suitable condensers. Benzol towers constitute an 
important additional item of expense, and introduce an additional 
complication into the general process. They give a yield of about 
22 pounds of benzol and toluol for each ton of coal submitted to 
coking. Their construction has hitherto been largely dependent 
upon the current demand for these hydrocarbons. The cost of benzol 
towers for a plant coking 300 tons of coal daily is about $21,000 in 
Germany. It requires a capital of about $5,000 for operation. The 
operating expenses are about $23,000 per annum. Such a plant 
gives yearly profits exceeding $30,000 when benzol prices are favor- 
able. With low prices for benzol it may barely meet the cost of 
operation. The 65,000,000 tons of coal now employed in coking are 
capable of producing 715,000 tons of benzol and its homologues from 
benzol towers alone, but the cost of the necessary plant would be 
over $14,000,000. 

It is estimated that our present system of coking involves an annual 
loss of $75,000,000, but at the present rate of advance, by 1920 one- 
half of our coke supply will come from recovery ovens. The intro- 
duction of such ovens in the United States began in 1892. 

The tar recovered in American coke plants was 66,300,000 gallons 
in 1910. It rose to 94,300,000 gallons in 1912, with a value of 
$2,311,000, or 2.45 cents per gallon. The weight of this tar was 
about 944,000 tons. Taking as a basis the customary yield obtained 
from coke tar, this contains 16,420 tons of benzol, toluol, etc.; 2,380 
tons of phenol; 56,600 tons of naphthalene; and 1,890 tons of 
anthracene, and the minor constituents in proportion. 

From the 65,000,000 tons of coal now used in coking it would, 
however, be possible, with complete recovery plants, to obtain 
3,350,000 tons of tar, or three and one-half times the present quantit}^. 
This would mean a potential supply from the tar of coke plants, on an 
existing basis of production, of approximately 58,000 tons of benzol, 
toluol, etc.; 8,300 tons of phenol; 200,000 tons of naphthalene; and 
6,700 tons of anthracene. 

Together, the existing gas and coke production, provided the latter 
be completely equipped with recovery plants, can furnish tar and 
benzol capable of yielding annually approximately 780,000 tons of 
benzol; 9,600 tons of phenol; 222,000 tons of naphthalene; and 9,000 
tons of anthracene; and the minor compounds, cresol, methyl, an- 
thracene, phenanthrene, and carbazol in the customary relative pro- 

From existing American gas works and coke plants, as equipped 
at present, about 25,000 tons annually of benzol, toluol, and xylol 
can be obtained if there is sufficient demand, and the proportionate 
quantities of the other constituents. 


These figures for the possible and potential production in the 
United States of the crude coal-tar products may be compared with 
those for the production in Germany. 

In 1910 Germany was equipped to produce, if necessary, 98,000 
metric tons of benzol and its homologues (metric ton = 2,204.6 
pounds). The actual production was 66,000 tons. Of this, 56,000 
tons were benzol and 10,000 tons toluol and higher homologues. A 
little over one-half of the total product was sold for use in motors, 
automobiles, etc. Aniline color works required 32,300 tons. As Ger- 
many supplies over two-thirds of the finished coal-tar dyes now pro- 
duced, and the great bulk of the intermediates required in other 
countries, furnishing from German works nearly all of the crudes, it 
is evident that the United States has at hand the raw material requi- 
site for supplying the crudes needed in the manufacture of over one- 
half the world's supply of artificial dyestuffs. At the same time its 
coke industry is capable, upon demand, of furnishing in the future 
twenty times as much benzol, etc., as the world now requires for 
coal-tar colors. 


The handling of coal tar and its further treatment are concentrated 
in a few hands, as is the case in Germany. This has given to the 
industry a pronounced unity and economy. Consumers of coal-tar 
crudes state that there has been a marked disposition to meet their 
needs, and to so adapt and modify manufacturing processes that 
domestic demands may be met as far as general market conditions 

In 1911 the amount of coal tar subjected to distillation amounted 
to 56,000,000 gallons. The remainder of the tar production was 
employed in the manufacture of roofing paper and for sprinkling 
streets. There is not much attempt to obtain separate products in 
a state of purity. The most important products are the light oil, 
creosote oil, and the residual pitch. These articles can compete 
successfully with European products. The light oil, containing ben- 
zol, etc., constitutes about 1 per cent of the tar. It is used largely 
for a solvent, for cleaning purposes, and as an illuminant. The 
creosote oil constitutes about 23 per cent of the tar and is used exten- 
sively for preserving timber. The domestic supply is far from cover- 
ing the current demand. 

In 1914 the United States imported 61,000,000 gallons of creosote 
oil, valued at $3,840,000, Great Britain supplied 41,000,000 gallons, 
Germany 10,000,000, and the remainder came largely from Belgium 
and the Netherlands. The home production of creosote oil in 1909 
was 13,000,000 gallons. It has about doubled since then. 

With regard to the production in the United States of the coal-tar 
crudes, necessary for dyestuff manufacture, the following is the 

Benzol, toluol, xylol. — Such limited amounts as have been called 
for to make intermediates in American works, about 500 tons annually, 
have been supplied the last few years. Provision can be quickly 
made for an ample supply on a much more extensive scale if a per- 
manent demand is evident. 


Phenol, or carbolic acid. — Tho method of treating American coals 
is such as to favor a relatively low production of phenol in coal tar. 
There has been little attempt to separate, regularly, technically pure 
phenol from the tar distillates. 

The American demand is covered mostly by importations from 
abroad. In 1913 American imports were valued at $675,000. Of 
the import of 4,077 tons, Germany supplied 1,354 tons, Great Britain 
2,422 tons, and the Netherlands 287 tons. The average price was 
$166 per short ton. In addition to furnishing material for a variety 
of important dyes, phenol has an extended use in medicine, in the man- 
ufacture of explosives, and in various industries. One important 
chemical made from phenol is salicylic acid, widely used in medicine 
as well as in the manufacture of artificial dyes. This is imported to 
the extent of 32,000 pounds. Another derivative is picric acid, 
used as an explosive as well as a dye. The import is now 85,000 
pounds, valued at $18,000. 

The embargo on exports of phenol from Europe during the last few 
months, on account of its importance in connection with military 
supplies, has forced American chemists to fall back on its synthetic 

Eroduction from benzol. The operation is relatively easy. It is 
ased upon the transformation of benzol into its sulphonic acid by the 
action of sulphuric acid, and the fusion of the product with caustic 
soda. With an ample supply of benzol the manufacture of synthetic 
phenol in the United States could be readily assured, at a cost not 
much in advance of that of the European product. 

Naphthalene. — This is a leading constituent of coal tar and fur- 
nishes a variety of derivatives employed in dye manufacture. The 
bulk of the pure product is used as a moth preventive. The United 
States consumes annually about 5,000 short tons. Nearly 1,600 tons 
are supplied by American tar distillers. The remainder comes from 
Germany and Great Britain, in about equal amounts. Phthalic acid, 
one of the most important derivitives of naphthalene, is imported to 
the extent of 38 tons annually, with a value of $21,000. Naphtha- 
lene is a prominent constituent of the fraction of creosote oil ob- 
tained in the distillation of coal tar. It is a purely commercial ques- 
tion to the tar distiller, whether he can more profitably sell the crude 
creosote oil or separate out the naphthalene present therein. 

Anthracene. — This hydrocarbon is also present in the creosote oil, 
and the same question arises as to the profit of its separation. No 
attempt is made in American tar works to isolate this valuable con- 
stituent, which serves as the basis of the manufacture of synthetic 
alizarin and all the alizarin dyes tuffs. 

The same may be said of the relatively small but still important 
amounts of cresol, methylanthracene, phenanthrene, and carbazol, 
all of which occur in the creosote oil, and all of which are essential to 
an industry providing all current artificial dyestuffs. It should be 
mentioned here that the quantity of anthracene present in the coal 
tar now treated in American tar works is far in excess of that required 
to manufacture the alizarin dyes imported into the United States, 
while the naphthalene present could more than meet the demands of 
the world's entire dyestuff manufacture. 

A competent authority gives the following estimate for products 
of the coal-tar industry in the United States for 1914: Total pro- 



duction of refined benzol in all forms, 2,550,000 gallons, or about 
9,600 short tons (of this amount, 200,000 gallons, or 750 tons, was 
devoted to the manufacture of aniline compounds) ; total production 
of refined toluol, in all forms, 840,000 gallons, or about 3,200 tons 
(nearly all used for making explosives) ; production of refined phenol, 
75 tons; production of refined naphthalene, 1,500 tons. 


Since August 1, 1914, there has been a steady movement upward 
in the market rates for nearly all crude products of coal tar, required 
in making dyes tuffs or explosives. The folio whig table shows the 
increases : 


Aug. 1, 

Feb. 15, 



per gallon. . 



SO. 40 

100 per cent 



90 per cent 



50 per cent 












Solvent naphtha 



Heavy naphtha 




Phenol, pure 



The present quotation for phenol is nominal. The demand for 
phenol is so far in excess of the supply, foreign or domestic, that 
exaggerated prices are often offered without finding any taker. 
American toluol is used almost entirely for producing high explosives. 
The naphthas, mixtures of the hydrocarbons, not used for dyestuffs, 
etc., show no tendency to rise. 


The tar industry of the United States is on a different basis from 
that of Europe. In Europe its importance is confined almost en- 
tirely to the production of raw material for a highly organized 
chemical industry. Here the use of tar itself is widespread, while the 
utilization of its chief constituent, pitch, is confined to very narrow 
limits across the ocean. Pitch forms 70 per cent of coal tar. In 
Germany little use is made of it except as a fuel. Nine- tenths of 
the pitch supplied by American tar works is employed hi road mak- 
ing, in roofing, and in general waterproofing. 

The very extended use of creosote oil in the United States makes 
it a purely commercial question as to whether the tar distiller should 
attempt a refining of its constituents. The current demand in 
America for benzol, toluol, and xylol is entirely met by the product 
from the benzol towers of coke plants. 

To attempt any extended provision for supplying the entire range 
of coal-tar crudes, such as might be required in the United States 
for the manufacture of its own supply of artificial dyestuffs, would 
mean an assurance that the distiller could profitably dispose of 
nearly all of the products isolated in a more or less pure form during 


the various processes, and secured in far different proportions from 
those required in the general manufacture of coal-tar dyestuffs. At 
once he would face a very delicate and complicated problem, with 
many factors, technical, economic, financial. A dommant factor is 
an assured market, if he enlarges his plant on a scale comparable with 
foreign establishments. 

Loss than 10 per cent of tar consists of matters available for use in 
the dyestuff industry. Jl' a distiller attempts to meet the needs of a 
growing or rapidly expanded domestic dyestuff industry, he must 
find channels for disposing of the remaining 90 per cent. 

The tar distiller feels that he should not be expected to embark in 
the manufacture of intermediates, but that this branch should be 
undertaken preferably by the producer of heavy chemicals, as the 
production of intermediates means a heavy consumption of acids, 
alkalies, and a variety of other chemicals. 

There seems to be no lack of enterprise in the tar-distilling branch; 
but there does seem to be a deep-seated conviction that fundamental 
changes in legislation are absolutely essential before any far-reaching 
effort can be organized, to assure the preparation from American 
coal tar of an adequate supply of " crudes" for the needs of a self- 
contained American coal-tar dyestuff industry. 


With regard to the great bulk of the heavy chemicals required in 
the coal-tar dyestuff industry, the United States is now compara- 
tively independent of the rest of the world. This is especially the 
case with sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium carbonate, 
caustic soda, wood alcohol, grain alcohol, and the chromates, all 
of which are used in large amounts. Liquid chlorine can easily be 
produced here on a large scale by electrolytic methods if the demand 
exists. The same can be said of glacial acetic acid and of acetic 
anhydride, the raw material for which is furnished abundantly by 
numerous plants for wood distillation. In common with the rest 
of the world, the United States depends largely upon Germany for 
potash compounds. The world depends likewise upon Chile for the 
raw material required in making nitric acid and sodium nitrite, 
except as these products are obtained from the air by the new pro- 
cesses for oxidizing atmospheric nitrogen. There is promise of this 
new industry being created in the United States. For the time being 
Norway, with its very cheap water power for generating electricity, 
is the only country where the synthetic production of nitric acid is a 
pronounced success on a fairly large scale. Most of the nitrite 
required for the manufacture of coal-tar dyestuffs is very advan- 
tageously manufactured as an adjunct of the Norwegian nitric-acid 
production. The bulk of the nitric acid made in Norway is transformed 
immediately into nitrates for use as fertilizer. All of Norway's water 
power, if utilized for the production of nitric acid and nitrates, 
would suffice for the production of only a fraction of the world's 
demands. In this connection it is of interest to note that Germany 
has hastily erected works on the Rhine for the production of nitric 
acid from atmospheric nitrogen, generating the necessary electric 
current at high cost by means of coal. The works will be in operation 
by April, 1915, and will partly meet the vastly increased demand for 
nitric acid required in the manufacture of explosives. 




As already noted, all efforts to build up on a large scale a distinctly 
American coal-tar chemical industry have been crippled and rendered 
useless when brought into conflict with the interests of the German 
coal-tar chemical industry. It is necessary to analyze the sources of 
this power, exerted apparently with such ease in all the leading indus- 
trial countries of the world, but felt most keenly in the United States, 
with its abundant supply of the raw materials and its large and rapidly 
growing consumption of artificial dyes tuffs. 

First of all, it is important to establish just how large a proportion 
of the world's production of artificial dyes is made in Germany. 
From export returns and careful estimates of local consumption, the 
following may be regarded as a fairly approximate statement of the 
world's present production of finished coal-tar dyes: 





6, 450, 000 

500, 000 
200, 000 



92, 150, 000 

This shows that Germany furnishes 74 per cent, or about three- 
quarters, of the world's dyes. 

The production of artificial dyestuffs for exportation is confined 
practically to Germany, Great Britain, and Switzerland. The values 
of such exports in 1912 were: Germany, $48,430,000, or 88.2 per 
cent; Switzerland, $5,450,000, or 9.9 per cent; Great Britain, 
$990,000, or 1.8 per cent; total value, $54,870,000. In the world's 
markets Germany's domination is evident, Switzerland being prac- 
tically the only competitor. 

The distribution oi Germany's exports of artificial dyestuffs among 
the different countries is a matter of interest. The exports of finished 
dyes in 1912 were valued as follows: Aniline dyes, $31,836,000; 
alizarin, $2,197,000; anthracene dyes, $3,429,000; indigo, $10,968,000; 
total, $48,430,000. The following table, compiled by Dr. Bernhard 
C. Hesse, the well-known chemist and statistician, shows very clearly 
the present dependence of the various countries upon Germany for 
their supplies and the importance of the United States as the leading 
customer. Noteworthy is the enormous consumption of synthetic 
indigo by China. The table shows the percentage of the exports of 
each dye taken by the principal consumers. 

Consuming countries. 






Per cent. 









Per cent. 

24. 34 


Per cent. 



Per cent. 













Consuming countries. 





Europe— Continued. 

Per cent. 
. 10 



/'-/ C< nt. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 


2. s:5 














64. 03 









South America: 






North America: 


United States 


44. 10 








24. 57 





48. 30 















The domination of the German color industry is, however, greater 
than would appear from the export statistics for finished dyes. As 
far as the production of crude coal-tar products is concerned, Ger- 
many has been for nearly 20 years practically independent of other 
countries. Its own tar industry produces, or is capable of producing, 
all crude compounds needed in the industry. The nearest approach 
to an exception is in the case of anthracene, the raw material for the 
manufacture of alizarin and an important class of dyes. There is 
enough of this hydrocarbon in German tar to meet the needs of the 
dyestufT works. In England, however, the separation of anthracene 
from the heavy oil of the tar works has been highly perfected and it 
is commercially profitable to draw upon the English supply. The 
independence otherwise of the German production of crudes, and its 
ability to send supplies to other countries, is shown by the following 
summary, for 1912, of Germany's trade in crude coal-tar products: 




Benzol and bomologues 


537, 000 


184, 000 

66, 400 




72, CO') 



Anthracene - 




2, 778, 000 

86201°— 15 3 


Germany's excess of exports is $1,474,000. 

Much more striking and of far-reaching importance is the revela- 
tion of the figures contained in the summary, for 1912, of Germany's 
trade in intermediate coal-tar products : 



107, 000 


Naphthol, and naphthalene compounds 

Nitrobenzol, resorcin, phthalic acid, anthraquinone, etc 


Total : 


3, 674, 000 

Here is an excess of $3,522,000 in favor of the exports. A calcu- 
lation based upon the unit prices of the various coal-tar products 
shows that in a rough approximate way crudes worth $1 produce 
intermediates worth $3.56 and finished dyes $7.61. Assum- 
ing that one-half of the excess of exports of crudes and all of the 
excess of intermediates are used to produce colors in other coun- 
tries, the value of the dyes manufactured abroad from German 
products would be, from crudes, $5,608,000; from intermediates, 
$7,529,000; total, $13,137,000. 

These figures show how largely the manufacture of dyes outside 
of Germany depends upon the industries of that Empire for the 
primary and intermediate compounds serving as raw materials. 
The manufacture of artificial dyestuffs outside of Germany has 
a value of about $24,000,000, and over one-half is made with mate- 
rials from German factories. 

The effects of this condition are seen in the trade statistics of 
other countries. Switzerland's net excess of crudes imported is 
$315,000; of intermediates, $846,000. Austria exports a net excess 
of 3,309 metric tons of crudes, and the net excess of imported inter- 
mediates is 1,032 tons. GrcatBritain exports crudes worth$2, 073, 000, 
and intermediates worth $156,000. British imports of both classes— 
but chiefly intermediates — are valued at $758,000. 

As already noted, nearly all the intermediates employed in manu- 
facturing coal-tar dyestuffs in the United States come from Germany. 
This is also the case for Belgium, the Netherlands, and Russia, and 
very largely so for France. 

Briefly stated, Germany makes three-quarters of the world's arti- 
ficial dyes and controls the supply of raw material for one-half of the 
remaining quarter. Furthermore, for one great class of dyes, the aliza- 
rin colors, and for a vast number of minor subdivisions, that country 
is almost the sole source of supply. It possesses in an exceptional 
degree a well-known commercial power to influence if not force 
customers requiring a large variety of dyestuffs to purchase from it 
all the entire stock needed. The industry is in such a position that it 
can easily render almost impossible in a given country the production 
of intermediates or finished dyes, unless prevented by governmental 
protection or assistance. 

The exceptional position of the Swiss industry is due to the fact 
that it started simultaneously with the German industry, and kept 
even step with its more powerful neighbor in the different stages of 
evolution. There are very friendly relations between the leaders in 


the two countries. The bulk of the Swiss production is at Basel, 
on the German frontier. The Swiss industry depends chiefly on 
Germany for its intermediates and for its heavy chemicals; at the same 
time it does not threaten the supremacy of the German dyestuff trade 

in the world's markets. 


The actual supremacy of Germany in the production of coal-tar 
dyes has been outlined above and its dominating position in inter- 
national commerce clearly shown. It remains to describe how this 
supremacy has been won and how it is maintained. 

The base of the present structure was laid half a century ago 
When the industry of artificial dyes tuffs was still in swaddling 
clothes. A remarkable number of German chemists of the first 
rank and of the second rank were attracted to the new industry. 
The admirably equipped laboratories of the German universities and 
schools of science were devoted largely to research in the new field. 
Simultaneously, in Germany, the molecular constitution of the aro- 
matic hydrocarbons was revealed by Kekule, and a vast amount of 
scientific knowledge, keen mental effort, high inventive capacity, and 
patient labor was devoted to applying the new theories to the dis- 
covery of tinctorial compounds among the derivatives of the aro- 
matic series. A small army of plodding, but still clever, young 
chemists carried out thousands and thousands of separate researches 
under the leadership of brilliant men, such as Hoffmann, Bayer, 
Liebermann, Graebe, Witt, and many others. Far more was done in 
Germany to develop the possibilities in the province of synthetic 
dyes than in all the rest of the world. At the same time the young 
industry was fortunate in securing the generous cooperation of finan- 
ciers with farsighted courage and technical managers of exceptional 
sagacity. What is said of Germany is also essentially true of Swit- 
zerland but naturally on a more modest scale. The seventies saw 
the industry well defined and established upon a solid basis, while 
the progress of discovery continued at an increased rate. The 
notable triumph of this period was the introduction of synthetic 
alizarin. During the eighties there was an increased appearance of 
new classes of important dyes. It was the golden decade. The 
industry was recognized as one of the great national assets of Ger- 
many. In the nineties there was a decided lull in invention. Great 
attention was devoted to the standardizing of manufacture, and espe- 
cially to the organization of the foreign trade. Germany became 
practically independent of the world in regard to its supply of coal- 
tar crudes. The relations between the great manufacturing houses 
became cordial, and there was a general spirit of cooperation. The 
manufacture of a large number of valuable medicinals and photo- 
graphic chemicals from coal-tar intermediates was added to the pro- 
duction of dyestuffs. Great quantities of these intermediates were 
also employed in the preparation of high explosives. All this con- 
tributed to making the industry better balanced and more symmetric, 
while, of course, adding to its complexity. 

The present century has seen a steady development. Synthetic 
indigo won its great victory. The discovery of new types of colors 
has become rare. Close trade agreements have come into existence, 


with Government approval, and have been maintained without 
difficulty. At present the industry is the most remunerative in the 
Empire, and the one most conspicuous in international trade as 
distinctly and predominantly German. It has been created in 
Germany, and is regarded by Germans as their most brilliant triumph 
in applying science to industry. The rest of the world generously 
recognizes the full right of Germany to be justly proud of its accom- 


Unquestionably the chief factor in favoring the early start of the 
industry and its remarkably rapid and harmonious development 
was the spirit of research in Germany and the marvellous equipment 
for facilitating, largely at public expense, the exercise of this spirit. 
While other countries sought to encourage the introduction of new 
branches of industry by the aid of tariff protection, in Germany 
manufacturers, capitalists, and Government officials early recognized 
the creative power and earning capacity of highly organized industrial 
research. Any marked advance in developing the coal-tar chemical 
industry in the United States must depend upon the full recognition 
of this fact, for no other industry is so intimately associated with 
research of the highest scientific character. 

A most competent authority, Dr. B. C. Hesse, says in this connec- 

What we do need is a semimanufacturing laboratory in which to ascertain the most 
favorable conditions for carrying out those operations which the work of the Germans, 
both in their patents and in their commercial exploitation of them, has shown to be 
needful or worthy of prosecution. That, however, is no child's play task; it calls for 
engineering skill of the highest order, chemical knowledge of great refinement, and 
experimental ability of high rank. Much will have to be learned and determined as 
to the proper materials of construction, the proper size and shape of the apparatus, and 
the most favorable working unit, which is by no means constant from one dyestuff or 
one intermediate to another. Many dyestuffs can not be made commercially in lots 
much greater than 100 pounds; others can be made in lots of 1 ton, but the manufac- 
turing unit, as a rule, is small. 


In analyzing the organization of the German dyestuff industry, it 
will be found that not only a vast amount of brain effort has been 
expended in its creation but that also the cash investment has been 
extremely large. 

There are now 22 German establishments devoted to the manufac- 
ture of coal-tar colors. Of these 21 are owned by joint-stock com- 
panies. The combined capitalization of the 21 companies, in 1913, 
was $36,700,000. In that year they paid dividends amounting to 
$11,600,000, or 21.74 per cent of the nominal capitalization. 

The explanation of this high percentage lies in the fact that for 
many years the industry has regularly devoted a large share of its 
profits to writing off the real estate and plant accounts and to new 
construction. One of the oldest and strongest companies has a 
capital of $13,100,000. Its stock sells at 600. In 1913 its net profits 
were $6,000,000, nearly one-half of the capital. One-third of this 
sum was devoted to a sinking fund for the erection of new plants, etc., 
and to welfare funds for operatives. From the remainder a dividend 


of 28 per cent was paid. This course lias been pursued for so many 
years that it is now estimated that at least $ 100, 000, 000 have been 
invested in the industry. 

It is worthy of note that the next most remunerative chemical 
industries in Germany are those devoted to explosives, glass, heavy 
chemicals, metallurgy, soap, and candles. The factories number 25'i. 
Dividends range from 1 1.2 to 11.8 per cent. Most of the remaining 
chemical industries in the Empire pay dividends of 5 to 10 per cent. 

It is easily seen that financially the German coal-tar dye industry 
is exceptionally well fortified and in a position to resist powerfully 
any attempt to destroy its supremacy. 


A marked feature of the industry is its concentration. The plants 
are all located within an area forming a square, wdth sides of 300 
miles. The actual concentration is even more pronounced, for, 
with the exception of the big v T orks at Berlin, all the leading estab- 
lishments, as well as the coke fields supplying the tar and the benzol, 
are situated on the Rhine and its tributaries, in a narrow strip of 
territory less than 200 miles in length. This means cheap haulage 
for the bulkier raw materials and facilities for the economical dis- 
tribution of finished products by water to all parts of the world. 

If an industry of this size in the United States, doing an extensive 
trans-Atlantic business, were located chiefly along the banks of the 
Hudson, between Albany and New York, and* obtained most of its 
raw material and fuel supply within short distances from the river, 
the concentration w^ould be practically the same. These conditions 
are readily seen in the accompanying map. 


The advantages of this close concentration, permitting easy com- 
munication and transfer of products between different factories, are 
intensified by the close relations between the several companies. 
Three of the largest organizations are closely allied; three other 
powerful companies form another combine. The relations between 
the two big units are, however, friendly, and this is the case also 
with the relations between the larger and the smaller firms. There 
is keen competition to maintain high standards of excellence in 
products and to dimmish the cost of production, as well as to bring 
out new dyestuffs; but there is a well-organized combination to 
maintain prices and to render mutual assistance in utilizing inter- 
mediates and by-products. For practical purposes the industry is a 
unit, especially in all that concerns its dealings with foreign markets 
and with foreign attempts at competition. These trade agreements 
and cooperative arrangements seem to have prevented the appear- 
ance of rivals on German soil during recent years. They have made 
themselves frequently felt on this side of the ocean, as efforts have 
been exerted from time to time to secure emancipation from de- 
pendence upon German intermediates or finished products. 





As the genera] industry lias developed, the individual companies 
have, in several cases, widely extended their operations, so as to 
manufacture all or nearly all of the intermediates required in their 
processes and a Large share of the beavy chemicals needed. They 
nave gone outside the limits of color chemistry and manufactured 
a variety of synthetic medicinal preparations, several synthetic per- 
fumes, and some important photographic chemicals, as well as mater- 
ials for modern high explosives. Tins has meant a great diversity 
of equipment and a delicate adjustment of manufacture, so as to 
permit the complete utilization of all by-products. In this respect 
the coal-tar chemical industry shows a marked resemblance to the 
great American packing industries. Starting with 10 crude coal-tar 
compounds, it produces a host of valuable articles, but finds methods 
of utilizing and deriving profit from all its by-products. If any such 
compounds occur in the evolution of a new product, and threaten 
waste and loss, they are transformed into other new preparations, 
for which uses can be created. 

All of this involves extended application of chemical engineering, 
and means the employment of a wide range of technical devices. 

A couple of examples may be cited as showing the extensive plant 
and staff and output of German works and the rate of expansion. 

The famous ''Farbwerke" at Hochst started in 1863 with 5 work- 
men, making the few aniline dyes then known. By 1888 it employed 
1,860 workmen and 57 chemists, and utilized 1,840 horsepower in 
its steam engines. It then produced 1,750 different colors. In 
1912, 30,000 horsepower were required. The staff included 7,680 
workmen, 374 foremen, 307 chemists, and 74 engineers. Wages 
amounted to $2,050,000, and salaries and bonuses to $1,240,000. 
The number of colors reached 11,000. Synthetic alizarin and indigo 
were leading products, and such materials as antipyrine, tuberculin, 
and diphtheria serum were made on a large scale. 

A still larger establishment is the Badische Anilin- mid Soda 
Fabrik, near Mannheim on the Rhine. It covers about 500 acres, 
with a water front of a mile and a half on the Rhine. The buildings 
cover 100 acres. Transportation between the several hundred build- 
ings is effected by 42 miles of railway. Power is generated and 
transmitted by 158 boilers, 386 steam engines, and 472 electric 
motors. Steam fire engines number 25, and there are 400 telephones. 
Each day there is a consumption of 1,000 tons of coal, 40 tons of ice, 
40,000,000 gallons of water, and 2,500,000 cubic feet of gas. In 
1908 workmen numbered 8,000, chemists 217, engineers 142, and 
the commercial staff 918. 


The participation of labor in the cost of finished dyes is not high. 
It ranges from 10 to 15 per cent, and is usually nearer the lower 
figure. There has been, however, a steady increase in the average 
wage rate of late years. The average daily wage in Germany for 
all labor — boys, and common and skilled labor — was $0.65 in 1886. 
In 1908 it had reached $1.14, an increase of 77 per cent. In 1906 the 
average daily wage hi the Badische works for a 10-hour day was 
$1.04. To the normal wage should be added the contribution by 


employers to the State old-age, accident, and sick funds, bonuses 
gained by many workmen, and the gifts for general welfare. In the 
case of the Badische this gift was $750,000 in 1908. Including 
these various items, it may be assumed that the prevalent adult 
daily wage in the dyestuff works is now about $1.80, as far as the actual 
outlay by the employers is concerned. 

A large item in the cost of production is due to the salaries of 
well-trained, competent chemists and engineers, who supervise every 
step of the multitudinous processes. Thus, the " Badische" employs 
30 well-equipped chemists — university graduates — in the research 
laboratory alone, quite apart from the manufacturing staff. 


The chief processes employed in transforming the 10 coal-tar 
" crudes" into nearly 300 intermediates required for the direct pro- 
duction of dyestuffs are 11 in number. Slightly varied in individual 
cases, they constitute the great bulk of the operations performed in 
color works. They are of such fundamental importance that a 
brief description is desirable in order to bring out clearly the high 
degree of correlation and coordination that characterizes the in- 
dustry. These processes are (1) nitration, (2) chlorination, (3) sul- 
phonation, (4) reduction, (5) oxidation, (6) caustic fusion, (7) alkyla- 
tion (8) liming, (9) condensation, (10) carboxylation, (11) diazo- 
tizing and coupling. 

(1) Nitration. — An aromatic compound is treated with a mixture 
of nitric acid and sulphuric acid. As a result usually one, but some- 
times two or three, atoms of hydrogen are replaced by the nitro 
group, N0 2 . The extent and nature of the reaction are largely 
effected by the factors of time, temperature, and proportions. Usu- 
ally the residual, somewhat diluted, sulphuric acid can be concen- 
trated and used repeatedly. 

(2) Chlorination. — Action of dry chlorine gas. The gas is usually 
obtained in connection with the electrolytic production of caustic 
soda from salt, is liquified for transportation, and allowed to vola- 
tilize as needed. The reaction is not so easily controlled as nitration 
and a variety of substitution products are often the result, causing 
much difficulty in separation. One-half of the chlorine employed is 
recovered in the form of hydrochloric acid. The synthetic produc- 
tion of indigo involves the use annually of over 5,000 tons of chlorine, 
prepared simultaneously with nearly 6,000 tons of caustic soda, and 
yielding, as by-product, nearly 8,000 tons of 33 per cent hydro- 
chloric acid. 

(3) Sulplionation. — The action of fuming sulphuric acid, usually in 
very large excess, to act as a vehicle. The reaction is, in a few cases, 
easily controlled. In most instances a variety of sulpho-acids are 
obtained, requiring separation, and involving the problem of utiliza- 
tion. The excess of sulphuric acid is generally lost. 

(4) Reduction. — The substitution of hydrogen for oxygen in nitro- 
compounds, forming the corresponding amido-bodies. Thus, benzol 
is changed by nitration to nitrobenzol and that, by reduction, to 
amidob.enzol, or aniline. Iron filings or turnings, with acetic or 
sulphuric acid, form the usual reducing agents. The resultant iron 
salts are without value. 


(5) Oxidation. — Potassium bichromate, potassium chlorate, lead 
peroxide, manganese dioxide or a permanganate, with hydrochloric 

acid or sulphuric acid, are the usual reagents. The residues, chrome 
alum, potassium chloride, etc., arc all susceptible of utilization. 

(6) Caustic fusion. — The operation is performed chiefly with 
sulpho-acids. As a result the sulpho-group is replaced by hydroxyl. 
Thus benzol monosulpho-acid, on fusion with caustic soda, gives 
phenol, or carbolic acid. The residue of sodium sulphite is some- 
times used in making bisulphite, more often discarded. The oper- 
ation is one requiring unusual care, and the results are often variable. 

(7) AlTcylation. — -The introduction into hydroxyl or amido groups 
of the radicals methyl or ethyl, present in wood alcohol and gram 
alcohol. The alcohols, or methyl or ethyl chloride, are used, along 
with hydrochloric acid, and the operation is effected at elevated 
temperatures under pressure in autoclaves. 

(8) Liming. — The use of lime or chalk to effect separations in 
mixtures, especially of sulpho-acids, through the differing solubil- 
ities of the calcium salts. Sometimes the purpose is to decompose 
chlorides and effect the separation of resultant acids and aldehydes. 

(9) Condensation. — A large class of operations in which two mole- 
cules of the same substance, or of different substances, unite to 
form a new compound, with the elimination of water, or ammonia, 
or hydrochloric acid. Sulphuric acid in considerable excess is the 
usual condensing agent. When used it reappears as a spent acid, 
too weak to admit of profitable recovery. Other condensers are the 
chlorides of zinc, aluminum, antimony, sulphur, and phosphorus. 
In most cases they can be recovered at slight cost and used repeatedly. 

(10) Carboxylation. — The introduction of the acid carboxyl group, 
by the joint action of caustic soda and carbon dioxide on phenol and 
its homologues. Thus phenol gives salicylic acid; a-naphthol gives 
oxy-naphthoic acid. The alkah is recovered in the form of chloride 
or sulphate. 

(11) Diazotizing and coupling. — An aromatic amine reacts with 
nitrous acid, forming a diazo-compound. Thus aniline yields diazo- 
benzol. Such a diazo-compound. in the presence usually of sodium 
acetate unites readily with a variety of aromatic substances; the 
operation is termed coupling. The product of such a reaction splits 
up, yielding the original amine and the amido-derivative of the 
second substance employed. Thus, salicylic acid, by coupling with 
a diazo-compound and subsequent reduction, is changed into amido- 
salicylic acid, an intermediate of widespread use. This sequence of 
reactions is of prime importance. It serves to produce a variety of 
intermediates, and is the fundamental operation in the manufacture 
of the so-called azo dyes, which constitute about one-half of the 
number of artificial dyes now current in the world's trade. 

The purely chemical transformations fail to reveal the full extent 
of the sequence of operations in eventually obtaining intermediates 
from crudes by a chain of reactions. Between any two successive 
chemical changes there are from one to three mechanical operations, 
such as baking, boiling, filtering, precipitating, blowing off with 
steam, and the like. There are also minor chemical operations, 
such as the change of acids or bases into salts; the separation of salts 
from liquids; their purification, drying, and storing, etc. 



In the preparation of about 300 intermediates by the use of these 
11 classes of reactions there is encountered the greatest diversity of 
problems to be handled. Every step involves the production of 
compounds other than the one mainly sought. How to limit their 
appearance so far as possible, how to utilize them when inevitably 
formed, how to adjust and balance the consumption of all the prod- 
ucts, are problems that demand exceptional technical and business 
ability and the closest cooperation between the manufacturing and 
the commercial staffs of an organization. 


One of the most serious demands on the technical staff of a dye- 
stuff factory is the necessity of obtaining the highest uniformity in 
finished products. Standards of purity are now very rigid. Pur- 
chased dyes are subjected to severe tests. This means great refine- 
ment and exactitude at every stage of the process in the evolution 
of a dyestuff. Exhaustive and careful tests are essential at each 
step before an intermediate can be submitted to a new chemical 
transformation. The margin allowed for variation from the standard 
of purity is very slight. In some instances the presence in a given 
intermediate of as little as one-fifth of 1 per cent of a closely allied 
compound, formed simultaneously in its production, would be pro- 
hibitive to its further use. 

All of this adds to the complexity of the manufacturing problem. 
In fact, at every stage the artificial-dyestuff industry presents a 
marvelous maze of materials and operations, interdependent and 
closely interlocked technically and economically. 


The astounding complexity of the manufacture as a whole has re- 
cently been set forth in a very striking and clear manner by Dr. B. 
C. Hesse, in comprehensive presentations of the entire series of opera- 
tions involved in the production of certain classes of dyes. With 
his permission summaries of some of the more striking phases of 
manufacture, as admirably outlined by him, are presented. 

The current types of dyes now number 921. Each one, as a rule, 
is offered commercially in a variety of brands, differing minutely 
from each other in exact shade, or in the availability for use with 
certain textiles. There are thus many thousand distinct brands for 

These 921 dyes are divided into 17 separate chemical classes, as 
shown in the table that follows: 

Classes of dyes. 

Alizarin and anthraquinone 



Tri- and di-phenylmethane . 


Oxazin and thiazin 


of types. 



Classes of dyes. 




Nitro, nitroso, auramine, chinolin, thio 
benzyl, and indophenol 


of types. 





Some of the simpler types of production may first be presented. 
Crudes, intermediates, and final dyes are distinguished by capitals. 
Operations are in parentheses. 

Sequence of operations in alizarin manufacture: 






(fusion with caustic soda and chlorate) 


. There are here only three chemical transformations. The anthra- 
quinone serves also as the starting point for a variety of important 
dyes. Alizarin has been the source of a vast amount of wealth to 
Germany since its discovery in 1869, when it began to supersede 
madder. The patent rights expired in 1886, but its manufacture 
has never been attempted in the United States. 
Operations in manufacture of napliiliol yellow: 



(fusion with caustic soda) 






This is one of the earlier standard dyes. Patent rights expired in 
1897. Some has been manufactured in this country from imported 
a-naphthol trisulpho-acid, the last transformation being compara- 
tively easy. Practically none is made here. 


Operations in manufacture of magenta: 




(reaction with o- and p- toluidine, and o- and p- nitrotoluol) 

(treatment with hydrochloric acid) 

Preparation of nitrotoluol and toluidine: 



o- and p- NITROTOLUOL 

o- and p- TOLUIDINE. 

Magenta is a dyestuff largely used in the United States. It is 
made here to some extent, but the manufacture is confined to the 
final step, the action of hydrochloric acid on the magenta base. In 
$1,000 worth of magenta the hydrochloric acid participates to the 
extent of about $5.50. 


Following are the operations in the manufacture of Tiydroquinone: 








Hydroquinone, while not a dye, is used in great amounts as a 
photographic developer, and is an important accessory product of 
German factories. It is made to some extent in the United States 
from imported or domestic aniline. 


There axe four methods of making indigo. Three start from benzol 

and the fourth from naphthalene. 




(treatment with chlor-acetic acid) 

(fusion with sodium oxide) 


(air blast) 


The crucial point in the sequence is the transformation of phenyl 
glycine into indoxyl. An older method used fusion with caustic soda. 
The yield was about 45 per cent. A later process made use of sodium 
amide, with nearly quantitative results. A still later process substi- 
tuted advantageously sodium oxide for the amide. 

The manufacture from naphthalene is slightly more involved: 




(action of ammonia) 


(action of sodium hypochlorite) 


(action of chlor-acetic acid) 


(fusion with caustic soda) 


(air blast) 


The development of this industry illustrates the influence of quan- 
tities. This last method was the first to be used successfully on a 
commercial basis. This was due primarily to the fact that at that 
time, by fusion with caustic, 90 per cent of the phenyl glycine com- 
pound could be changed into indoxyl. It was also largely due to 
the fact that naphthalene could be had in abundance, and was seek- 
ing a market. Pure benzol could be secured, but the preparation of 


the vast quantity of pure benzol needed for the world's consumption 
of indigo would have entailed the simultaneous production of a very 
large amount* of toluol, for which there was at the time no visible 
demand. Naphthalene could be employed without involving the 
production of other coal-tar crudes. Gradually new uses for toluol 
have been found, and more and more pure benzol is available at low 
rates. Probably the manufacture of indigo will soon be based 
entirely upon the use of benzol as the primary material. 

The history of this manufacture illustrates how intimately com- 
mercial conditions control the choice of materials in the dyestuff 
industry, and how in all branches a certain "balance of power" must 
be maintained in order to assure the highest economic results. It is 
interesting to note that the first step in the naphthalene process 
involves the use of sulphuric anhydride representing the annual con- 
sumption of 80,000 tons of 50 per cent pyrites. The chlor-acetic acid 
employed represents an annual consumption of 4,500 tons of glacial 
acetic acid, and 5,000 tons of liquid chlorine. 


To illustrate operations on a more varied scale, the group of so- 
called ketone dyes may advantageously be summarized. These are 
closely related chemically, include representatives from several of 
the 17 classes, and show how these classes are interlaced and inter- 
locked with one another. The 24 dyes in this group constitute one- 
fortieth of the total number of current dyes. They are all good 
sellers. Most have been in use 30 years. Eight were never patented 
in our country. American patents have expired on eleven, and will 
expire on four in the course of a year, and on a fifth in 1925. 

The common material employed hi making each of the 24 dyes is 
termed "Michler's ketone." It is obtained by the reaction of car- 
bonyl chloride on dimethyl aniline. The latter is made from aniline, 
aniline salt, and wood alcohol. Aniline, as already noted, is made 
from benzol by nitration and reduction of the resultant nitrobenzol. 

Carbonyl chloride results from the reaction between carbon mon- 
oxide and chloride in the presence of a contact agent, such as plati- 
num or animal charcoal. In a current process of manufacture, 
calcium chloride, lime, and coke are heated in an electric furnace. 
The carbonyl chloride gas evolved is condensed to a liquid at 8° C. 
The gas is passed into liquid dimethyl aniline until the weight has 
increased 40 per cent. The reaction is completed by heating for 
several hours at 100° C. The resultant ketone is a solid, melting 
at 174° C. 

By using grain alcohol instead of wood alcohol the corresponding 
ethyl compound is secured. This is used by preference in a few 

In the reaction between carbonyl chloride and dimethyl aniline 
21.2 pounds of hydrochloric- acid gas are released for every 100 
pounds of ketone formed. 

In making dyes by the aid of ketone, "condensation" takes place. 
The ketone and another coal-tar derivative react upon each other 
in the presence of phosphorus trichloride or phosphorus oxy chloride. 
The complex dye results, and hydrochloric acid and phosphoric acid 
are by-products. The latter can be changed again into phosphorus 
oxychloride for renewed use. 


In making 100 pounds of ketone and in using it bo produce dyes, 

a total amount of LOO pounds of 33 per cenl hydrochloric acid is 
released. Of this about 30 pounds are utilized to prepare sails of 
basic dyes produced. The remainder is available for other purposes. 

In making and using the ketone, four of the eleven general opera- 
tions required in dye manufacture come into play, viz, nitration, 
reduction, alkylation, and condensation. The materials employed 
are benzol, coke, phosphorus, chlorine, nitric acid, sulphuric acid, 
hydrochloric acid, iron filings. Intermediates formed are nitro- 
henzol, aniline, dimethyl aniline, carbonyl chloride. 

Turning now to the production of the 24 dyes in question, it is 
found that 23 final intermediates are necessary. The total number 
of operations requisite to produce these final intermediates, starting 
in each case from coal-tar crudes, is 118. Derivatives of benzol, 
toluol, naphthalene, and phenol appear in the combinations effected. 
In 16 cases a single coal-tar crude is represented; in the remaining 
cases, two are present. On an average 5 transformations are re- 
quired to produce a final intermediate ready to condense with ketone. 
Reduction occurs 31 times, nitration 21 times, sulphonation 13 times, 
oxidation 12 times, condensation 11 times, etc. 

If equal amounts of ketone were used to manufacture the 24 dyes, 
using in each case 100 pounds, the total 2,400 pounds of ketone would 
produce 4,605 pounds of finished dyes. In this final product different 
constituents would participate as follows: Ketone, 52.11 per cent; 
benzol, 7.58 per cent; toluol, 5.21 per cent; naphthalene, 11.42 per 
cent; phenol, 1.69 per cent; from sulphonation, alkylation, etc., 21.99 
per cent. Benzol, however, constitutes 58.21 per cent of the ketone 
used, so that the total participation of this hydrocarbon in the dyes 
would average 37.91 per cent. 

Naturally these 24 dyes are not required by the trade in approxi- 
mately equal amounts. In constructing a plant for their manufac- 
ture a high degree of intelligence is imperative, in order to avoid 
waste of time, space, and apparatus, in planning the size and relative 
position of the different buildings. 

To effect the 118 operations it is not necessary to have that number 
of sets of apparatus. The 11 major operations require, however, 
in each case, equipment varying in size, etc., depending upon the 
materials to be transformed, their relative amounts, the time for 
manufacture, etc. Thus the same apparatus for nitration is not 
necessarily adapted for use with both benzol and naphthalene, the 
same condensation apparatus is not applicable for all forms of con- 
densation, etc. 

In the manufacture of this group of 24 dyes there are several 
instances where operations produce two op more products, usually 
isomeric compounds, and the problem of complete utilization is pre- 

When chlorine acts upon toluol, three substances, in varying pro- 
portions, are always formed — benzal chloride, benzyl chloride, benzo- 
trichloride. Benzyl chloride serves in producing 3 dyes, and benzo- 
trichloride 1 dye, in the group of 24. Benzal chloride is not utilized 
in this group, but it serves as the starting point for the manufacture 
of a much larger group — the benzaldehyde dyes. Again in nitrating 
toluol, two isomeric products are always formed — orthonitrotoluol 
and paranitrotoluol. The latter is used in making one dye of the 


group in question. The ortho variety is, however, of much greater 
general importance. It is the starting point for making tolidine, 
the essential constituent in a group of 45 dyes. The use of the para 
form in this case, is the utilization of a by-product unavoidably 
occurring in another branch of manufacture, with the consequent 
avoidance of waste and loss. 

The two instances illustrate how the commercial side of the indus- 
try must constantly be on the alert to keep all the intermediate 
products in alignment, with avoidance of excess production over 
market requirements. This merchandizing effort involves infinite 
painstaking and highly developed skill. 

The group of 24 dyes includes 15 acid and 9 basic products. Fur- 
ther, 7 are used on cotton, 11 on silk, 17 on wool, and 5 more on 
wool with the aid of the chrome process. One is employed in calico 
printing; another is largely used for paper, leather, jute, artificial 
silk, coconut fiber, and lakes. 

As a whole, this group, although involving such a measure of inter- 
locking and interdependence, as shown in the accompanying chart, 
presents the simplest and least intricate series of relationships in the 
industry. Other groups show much greater complexity, chemically, 
technically, and commercially. 


A larger and more complex group is that of the benzidine dyes, 
numbering 82. The common constituent here is benzidine, a benzol 
derivative. The formation is as follows: 




(fusion with caustic soda and zinc dust) 



(action of nydrochloric acid) 


Like Michler's ketone, benzidine itself is not a dyestuff. It is only 
in combination with other coal-tar derivatives that it gives rise to 
color products. In order to effect any such combination the benzi- 
dine is first changed by the action of nitrous acid into its tetrazo 
derivative. In this form it reacts with some 44 intermediates to 
produce 82 current dyes. These 44 final intermediates are derived 
from benzol, toluol, xylol, phenol, cresol, and naphthalene. Their 
preparation calls for the production of 55 other intermediates, not 
used for direct reaction with tetrazobenzidine. The derivation is: 
Benzol 10, toluol 2, xylol 1, phenol 1, cresol 2, naphthalene 28. 

In combining benzidine with the 44 compounds, to produce the 82 
dyes, the latter are used two at a time, three at a time, four at a 
time, or each one twice. Evidently, from the possible permutations 
and combinations, a host of differing tinctorial products can be de- 
rived from the 44 final intermediates. Of the multitude, but 82 
have won a recognized position in the field of dyeing. 









J ~ '; 


86201 c 


The average number of transformations required to make final 
intermediates from naphthalene is 4.5, from the other crudes 3. As 
the operations requisite to prepare tetrazobenzidine and its final 
reaction with one to four intermediates are 5 in number, the total 
number of chemical changes involved in the manufacture of benzi- 
dine dyes ranges from a minimum of 6 to a maximum of 23. The 
interdependence is illustrated by the two accompanying charts. 

Benzidine dyes are of prime importance, as they dye cotton di- 
rectly without the use of a mordant. The range of colors and shades 
is, however, inadequate to meet the demands of cotton dyers. 


In order to fill in the lacking tints, recourse is had to tolidine, 
dianisidine, and five other less important derivatives of benzidine. 
Together these yield the 167 direct cotton dyes, of the so-called 
diphenyl type, now in current use. They are divided as follows: 
Benzidine 82, tolidine 43, dianisidine 28, a-nitrobenzidine 1 , dichlorben- 
zidine 3, benzidine-monosulpho-acid 2, benzidine-disulpho-acid 4, 
ethoxy-benzidine 4. 

These complementary substances are used exactly as benzidine 
itself, reacting in the same way with the 44 final intermediates 
already mentioned. They require, however, for the production of 
several current dyes, a number of additional finished intermediates, 
more or less complicated in their relationship. They react also di- 
rectly with phenol and cresol. 

Tolidine is made from o-nitrotoluol in the same manner as benzidine 
is prepared from nitrobenzol. 

Together, the dyes of the ketone, benzidine, tolidine, etc., types 
form about one-fifth of the current artificial colors. 


Patents have been multitudinous in connection with the evolution 
of the German coal-tar dyes tuff industry. From 1876 to 1912 they 
numbered 8,062, or 224 annually on an average. Many correspond- 
ing patents were taken out in other lands, especially in France and 
Great Britain. The number in the United States was 2,432. 

But very few of the important intermediates have been patented. 
Not a few dyestuffs have been patented by non-German inventors. 
Most patents cover a vast range of possibilities, and protect the 
manufacture of thousands of theoretical dyestuffs, of which an infini- 
tesimal number ever win a place in the world's markets. It is 
claimed with authority that not over 1 per cent of the German 
patents in this industry have ever proved remunerative. In the case 
of the 921 dyes in current use at the beginning of 1913, 762 German 
patents were involved. Of these, 485 were originally patented in the 
United States. One-half of the American patents have expired. 
Many of the remaining patents expire this year or in the immediate 
future. Over 50 per cent of the current dyestuffs were never pat- 
ented in the United States. 

The general situation shows clearly that, as far as patent protection 
is concerned, numerous dyes have been patented by non-German 











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inventors, that many dyestuffs bave never been patented, fchat the 
patents on many others bave expired, a considerable number each 
year, since L880. In spite of all this apparent freedom, and fche 

absence of all patent protection on the production of the intermediates 
requisite for dyestun manufacture, efforts in other countries to chal- 
lenge and contest Germany's dominant position in the dyestuff indus- 
try have been few, and practically futile. 

As a matter of fact, Germany has demonstrated her ability to 
outrank the entire world in making patentable compounds from 
nonpatented intermediates and, in addition, to manufacture these 
intermediates in open competition with all rivals. 

In its ultimate analysis, the situation shows that German chemists 
and captains of industry have actuaUy done the bulk of the hard and 
complicated labor inherent in the creation and organization of a 
vast branch of manufacture, and that they have not hesitated to 
use the power associated with its hardly won national predominance 
to prevent effectively any serious competition in industrial lands. 


The incmiry why the natural resources of our country have never 
been utilized on any extensive scale to meet the needs of American 
consumers and create a distinctly American coal-tar chemical industry 
has often been raised. 

The few American manufacturers of artificial dyestuffs claimed that 
they were doing all that was possible under existing economic and 
fiscal conditions. Consumers of dyestuffs were, as a rule, indifferent, 
satisfied to receive regularly a supply of all needed colors, ordinarily 
uniform in strength and meeting every possible requirement in shade 
or adaptability to fabric and material. American economists dwelt 
upon the enormous complexity of the problem, bristling with diffi- 
culties at every step, shoidd any attempt be made to dispute the 
supremacy of the foreign industry, intricate and complicated beyond 
any other organized field of human effort and formidably intrenched 
within the limits of a single powerful nation. 

No direct, concrete attempt was ever made to focus national 
thought in the United States upon the problem, to enlist the coopera- 
tion and combined effort of producers of crude products, actual or 
potential manufacturers of finished dyes, the many trades consuming 
dyestuffs in quantity, the still more numerous branches dependent in 
turn upon them, and the general industrial world in seeking an 
effective solution worthy of the nation's rank. 

The present crisis in the world's affairs, threatening to interrupt 
any day the customary supply of artificial dyestuffs, has served to 
awaken general attention to the importance of this national question 
to a degree never attained by the more or less academic discussions 
of the past. A famine in dyestuffs strikes at the very existence and 
profitable continuance of a large group of industries. American 
chemists have been put in the position 01 defending themselves, and 
explaining why they could not, at once, meet the Nation's need in an 



Those in control of our coking interests, and controlling the coal-tar 
branch, are thoroughly sympathetic to any prospective enlargement 
of the demand for coal-tar crudes. Recovery plants for benzol and 
tar in coke works will be rapidly increased, tar distilleries will erect 
the requisite plant for an ample supply of the requisite 10 coal-tar 
crudes, just as soon as there is the fairly permanent assurance of a 
regular demand for the products. 


These likewise are thoroughly in sympathy with the creation of a 
large industry, capable of using great amounts of staple chemicals. 
There does not seem to be any inclination on the part of such man- 
ufacturers to embark themselves in the production of dyestuffs. 
There is, however, a distinct readiness to cooperate, by organizing, 
on a modest scale, the manufacture of the leading intermediates. 
One firm has ventured to erect a somewhat extensive plant, after 
successfully establishing the manufacture of a few intermediates. of 
recognized purity. The feeling here is, however, conservative. 
There is a marked disinclination to invest considerable amounts, 
while the danger is present of awakenmg sooner or later the determi- 
nation on the part of the German industry to throttle any too am- 
bitious attempts by effective and persistent selling at prices under 
cost. With the assurance of adequate legislative protection against 
the danger of " dumping" on the part of foreign producers of coal-tar 
intermediates, there is every indication that existing chemical indus- 
tries would embark readily and extensively in the production of this 
class of compounds. 

Hydroquinone, the well-known photographic developer, falling 
practically in this category of coal-tar compounds, although not used 
in the production of colors, is now successfully manufactured by an 
American chemical firm. 


In this class there is no question of a readiness to advance far 
beyond the modest limits of the present manufacture as soon as 
adequate legislation is assured. The manufacturers assert that 90 
per cent, by value, of the artificial colors used in the United States are 
now unprotected by patents, or will be freed from patent protection 
within two or three years; and, further, that practically all of the 
genuine needs of American colorists are covered by this 90 per cent 
of dyes. 

With the protection of an effective antidumping clause, they feel 
that much can be done toward building up the dyestuff industry in 
our country. The manufacture of the simpler intermediates, and 
of finished dyes involving a minimum of chemical transformations, 
could be attempted with a degree of security and confidence now 

The certainty that ruthless and prolonged underselling on the part 
of foreign competition could be effectually forestalled would 
undoubtedly stimulate effort in several directions and aid in gradually 
building up important features of the industry, even if there could be 


no attempt at creating a self-contained, national, dyestuff industry 
in the Immediate future, [nstances are cited where such an exten- 
sion of the range of manufacture of intermediates and of finished 
dyes would unquestionably take place. Among these are such 
important intermediates as nitrobenzol, aniline oil, and salts, resorcin, 
nitrophenol, salicylic acid, benz aldehyde, phthalic acid, the naphthols 
and the naphthylamines. Among the finished dyes are a variety of 
colors obtained by not more than two transformations from the 
above list. 

There is some feeling, in this connection, among our dyestuff manu- 
facturers that the patent laws could advantageously be modified, so 
as to assure the working on American soil of all patents granted by 
our Government. Great Britain has lately made changes in this 
direction in her patent laws. Germany has for years required that 
the owners of a patent must work the invention to an adequate 
extent in the Empire or do all that is necessary to secure such working. 
Otherwise, if deemed needful in the public interest, permission is 
granted others to use the invention. The owner of the patent receives 
adequate compensation, and the manufacture in Germany is assured. 
It is claimed that if such legislation had been in force 30 to 40 y^ars 
ago, when invention in the dyestuff industry was at its height, 
European patentees would have been forced to build branch factories 
in the United States. These factories would undoubtedly have 
developed other products. While not helping the then existing 
American factories, a large dyestuff industry would inevitably have 
been created on American soil, with resultant benefit to the country 
at large. 

The general opinion among American chemists and inventors 
in this field is antagonistic to such legislation. Its evils, it is claimed, 
more than counterbalance the advantages. Certainly in England 
it has not aided in the development of the artificial-dyestuff industry. 


The great textile branches and the other branches consuming large 
amounts of dyes tuffs have been indifferent or lukewarm in the past 
to the question of an American color industry. Now that their 
normal manufacture is threatened by dislocation, they are more keenly 
alive to the vital character of the subject. The chairman of. the 
dyestuffs committee of the National Association of Finishers of Cotton 
Products, A. L. Lustig, lately stated in this connection: "The textile 
finisher would have to sacrifice temporarily in some directions in order 
to accomplish the greatest good for all, which would be a gradual 
development of the coal-tar chemical industry in the United States. 
I feel that it would be good business judgment on our part to bear 
additional financial burdens for some years to come in order to help 
to establish an American coal-tar chemical industry and in this way 
ultimately benefit ourselves." 

Mr. Lustig is strongly of the opinion that by cooperation between 
the American manufacturing interests and the German color makers 
much could be accomplished, that we could gain years of time, save 
large sums of money, and establish the industry under the most 
favorable conditions. He adds: " The German people will require all 
their financial resources to repair the damages caused by the present 


war; but they can furnish us with patent licenses and with some ex- 
perts, which would form a nucleus for the elaborate steps needed to 
work out this problem. I believe that by the resulting cooperation 
with the European manufacturers who, at the proper moment, might 
be induced to enter this field, we could help to establish the industry 
here, and in this manner prevent a recurrence of the conditions 
which jeopardize textile interests at the present time; this might be 
done irrespective of material changes in our patent laws, changes of 
tariff, etc." 

Some consumers of dyes in quantities, and absolutely dependent 
upon certain colors unobtainable at present, have erected emergency 
plants and produce the needed dyes at some considerable increase 
in cost. In one such case the experiment has worked so well that 
the manufacturing company has expressed its readiness to embark 
extensively in the industry and enlarge steadily its present modest 
plant, if sure of the needed legislation generally demanded. 

There is a distinct dread on the part of some users of dyes in regard 
to identifying themselves with any concerted move to favor the estab- 
lishment of an American dyestuff industry. They state frankly that 
any such action would probably result in their being promptly 
blacklisted by all importers of colors and cut off from any supply of 
dyes, outside of the limited American product. 


There is a growing feeling among American economists that the 
time is ripe for reaching a decision whether the United States is ever 
to have a coal-tar chemical industry, self-contained and independent, 
utilizing the great natural resources and meeting the Nation's needs, 
as fully as is the case with our iron and steel industry or a score of 
other prominent phases of national activity. It is pointed out with 
force that every year which elapses strengthens relatively and abso- 
lutely Germany's predominance in this field and multiplies in geo- 
metrical ratio the difficulties to be overcome should the attempt 
ever be made to create the fully equipped American industry. There 
seems to be no doubt in the minds of some American economists 
that the task can be accomplished, and that the present world's con- 
juncture offers the most favorable opportunity for taking the initial 
and fundamental steps. The enactment of legislation to prevent 
"dumping" would unquestionably give an enormous impetus to 
American enterprise and capital, already attracted to this field. But 
some years must inevitably elapse before a scientific and technical 
staff could be thoroughly trained and before such captains of industry 
could be evolved, as in our iron, steel, petroleum, electrical, and other 
great industries, peers of their foreign rivals, and often recognized as 
world leaders. 


To meet a widespread demand for explanation, a committee was 
appointed by the New York section of the American Chemical So- 
ciety to report upon the situation. This committee was composed of 
the following members: J. B. Herreshoff, representing the manu- 
facturers of heavy chemicals; I. F. Stone, representing manufacturers 
of coal-tar colors; J. Merritt Matthews, representing the textile inter- 


ests; II. A. Metz, representing the importers; David W. Jayne, rep- 
resenting the producers of crude coal-tar products; Allen Rogers, 
chairman of the New York section; and Bernhard C. Hesse, chemical 

expert, chairman. 

The findings of this committee were considered on November 9, 
1914, in detail, and after discussion the report was unanimously 
adopted by the section. 

The committee's conclusions were in harmony with the general 
expression of opinion on the part of those more closely concerned 
with the question, consumers, manufacturers, and others, as just 
outlined. Special stress was laid in the report upon the imperative 
necessity of adequate legislation to prevent " dumping," or under- 
selling, by the present dominant foreign industry before any serious 
attempt could be made to materially enlarge the existing scope of 
American dyestufF manufacture. 


The successive steps necessary for the establishment of a self-con- 
tained American coal-tar chemical industry, under favoring condi- 
tions, have been outlined as follows : 

1 . Determination of the American ^demand for dyestuffs. — Statistics 
show the total value of our imports of foreign dyes, but they do not 
show the exact amounts of each dye consumed in the United States 
except approximately for alizarin and indigo. It is necessary to 
take a census in order to have the data for planning intelligently the 
different phases of a combined manufacture destined to supply the 
entire domestic demand, and for so coordinating the various features, 
as to secure the highest economy. This is not an easy matter, but 
it is indispensable. The information might be secured by a general 
communication on the part of American consumers of the average 
annual amounts required of each dyestuff. It might be obtained 
through a careful collocation of the data contained in consular invoices. 
Certainly it will never be communicated by importers. 

2. Research laboratory. — All interested parties should unite, pos- 
sibly with Federal cooperation, in the establishment of a research 
laboratory in which the various chemical, mechanical, and engineering 
problems connected with the formation of each intermediate and the 
production of each finished dye could all be solved and standardized. 
Further, in such an experimental institute the entire coordination of 
the industry, on the basis of evenly supplying American consumption, 
could be carefully determined. 

3. Evolution of the productive industry. — Simultaneously with the 
organization of such a laboratory, existing and newly formed fac- 
tories could start units of production, beginning with the simpler 
dyes, or those involving a minimum of transformations. Gradually 
the volume would increase, until finally the entire field would be 
covered. The central research laboratory would constantly serve as 
a clearing house to plan and provide against waste through improper 
coordination; and such cordial trade cooperation as exists between 
the component parts of the German industry should be sought for. 
At the same time our schools of science would organize special courses 
to train up the necessary corps of chemists and chemical engineers to 
man the growing industry, exactly as they have done for the exten- 
sive dyeing and bleaching industries of our country. 


It would take a decade, possibly less, before the industry could 
meet the great bulk of American needs; but it would be distinctly a 
national industry. Here and there a minor gap must be filled from 
abroad until patent rights have expired. Unquestionably American 
inventive genius would be spurred to score successes in the new field, 
and patents for new dyes discovered in the United States would be 
taken out with increased frequency. 

Such, in its more essential features, it is claimed, would be the 
sequence of stages in the development of a national self-contained 


Great Britam is a country hi which the artificial dyestuff industry 
is much more developed than in the United States. It depends, 
however, upon Germany for its supply of colors almost as much as 
our own land. It has been cut on entirely for over seven months 
from this normal foreign supply. So severely have its textile and 
other industries been endangered that the British Government has 
deemed it an imperative duty to take the requisite steps to build 
up promptly a national coal-tar industry, depending upon national 
resources for its raw materials and covering the entire country's 
demand, or very nearly so. 

On November 27, 1914, the President of the British Board of Trade, 
in presenting the subject before the House of Commons, said: "If 
we were to go on being dependent in the larger portion of our textile 
trade on supplies which Germany has the power to cut off whenever 
she pleases, we left the industry in a state of peril, and we should cer- 
tainly be lacking in foresight if we were not prepared to take the 
steps necessary to put a stop to the entire dependence of what was, 
after all, the greatest of our manufacturing industries (i. e., textile 
manufactures), on commodities entirely under foreign control." 

Since then the subject has been actively discussed by chemical in- 
terests, textile and dyers' associations, chambers of commerce, etc. 
Some have advocated a reversal of the traditional free-trade policy 
of the Kingdom, making a temporary exception in favor of artificial 
dyes. Some have proposed active cooperation with Switzerland, 
whose dye production could rapidly be enlarged, raw material being 
supplied from England. Others favor ample financial aid and close 
cooperation on the part of the Government, with the assurance of 
adequate protection against unfair competition after the war. 

This last policy seems to have the majority of adherents, and has 
received Government sanction. On February 8 a definite plan was out- 
lined by the Government . It is based upon the formation of a national 
company with an initial capital of $10,000,000. The Government 
is prepared to advance $5,000,000 at the rate of $1 for every $5 sub- 
scribed by the public, and an additional $2,500,000 at the rate of $1 
for every $4 subscribed. Government advances receive 4 per cent 
interest. The Government will also grant $500,000 for a research lab- 
oratory. Further details with regard to methods of protecting the 
new industry at the close of the war have not yet been received. 

Great Britain uses annually about 20,000 tons of artificial dyes, 
with an estimated value of $10,000,000. The domestic manufacture 
of d} T es ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 tons, one-half of which is exported. 
Nine-tenths of the consumption is of German origin. 


Tn France a similar movement lias bees inaugurated to perma- 
nently free the country from dependence for its dyestuffs upon 
Germany or any foreign source. A group of loading chemists lias 
devoted itself for some time past to the details 01 the problem. 
Recent announcements in the press state that it has been satisfac- 
torily solved, and that henceforth every phase of the industry can 
be established upon French soil, using exclusively French crude 
materials. Coal-tar products are supplemented to some extent by 
residues from the beet-root sugar manufacture. 


It appears that numerous American industries are dependent 
upon the use of dyestuffs and that artificial dyestuffs have displaced 
nearly all the natural dyestuffs; that the American consumption of 
artificial dyestuffs has attained an annual value of about $15,000,000, 
and of tins only about $3,000,000 worth is supplied by domestic 
production, the rest coming mainly from Germany; that since the 
war in Europe German makers have not bee'n able to supply the 
entire demand, and in consequence prices have risen from 25 to 50 
per cent on such dyestuffs as can be delivered; that the supply of 
coal-tar dyestuffs throughout the world is completely dominated 
by the German industry, Germany furnishing in 1913 about 74 per 
cent of the total world's consumption; that the German dyestuff 
industry has been chiefly developed by the inventive power of 
German chemists, combined with a wealth of technical skill and keen 
business management scarcely equaled in the history of any other 
branch of manufacture; that in the United States the supply of coal 
tar is sufficient to provide all of the crudes required for the manu- 
facture of the dyestuffs consumed in the country; that our manu- 
facture of heavy chemicals is well developed and able to expand 
rapidly and supply all needed chemicals for the production of inter- 
mediates and their transformation into finished dyes; that 90 per 
cent of the dyes now consumed in the United States are patent-free, 
and that the remaining 10 per cent will soon be freed from patent 
restriction; that the advance of the American dyestuff industry, 
beyond certain limits, is persistently checked and prevented by the 
united action of German producers in underselling; and that the 
present crisis has evoked deep interest on the part of all concerned — 
tar distillers, manufacturers of chemicals, manufacturers of dye- 
stuffs, and users of the same, and economists in general — as to how 
the problem can be solved. 

It appears, furthermore, that some American chemical works and 
American manufacturers of dyestuffs are ready to embark capital 
and experience in very materially enlarging the present limited scope 
of the American coal-tar chemical industry, using American crudes 
and intermediates, provided effective legislation is enacted to pro- 
hibit dumping and to prevent such action toward control of our mar- 
kets by a foreign monopoly as is now prohibited to domestic industry. 

Far-reaching efforts appear to have been made in England and 
France under Government auspices to free these countries from de- 
pendence on any foreign service for their supply of dyestuffs. 

^1 ' 


3 ^Dflfi DDE^TBh? 7 

nmah HD9999.D9U6 1915a 
Dyestuffs for American textile and other